Navigate Up

Seniors Center - A-Z Index

#
Q
Y
Z

Print This Page

Foreign body in the nose

This article discusses first aid for a foreign object placed into the nose.

Alternative Names

Something stuck in the nose; Objects in the nose

Considerations

Curious young children may insert small objects into their nose in a normal attempt to explore their own bodies. Potential objects placed in the nose may include food, seeds, dried beans, small toys (such as marbles), crayon pieces, erasers, paper wads, cotton, and beads.

A foreign body in a child's nose can be there for awhile without a parent being aware of the problem. The object may only be discovered when visiting a doctor to find the cause of irritation, bleeding, infection, or difficulty breathing.

Symptoms

Symptoms that your child may have a foreign body in his or her nose include:

  • Difficulty breathing through the affected nostril
  • Feeling of something in the nose
  • Foul-smelling or bloody nasal discharge
  • Irritability, particularly in infants
  • Irritation or pain in the nose
Click to download

First Aid

  • DO NOT search the nose with cotton swabs or other tools. This may push the object further into the nose.
  • DO NOT use tweezers or other tools to remove an object that is stuck deep inside the nose.
  • DO NOT try to remove an object that you cannot see or one that is not easy to grasp. This can push the object farther in or cause damage.
  • Have the person breathe through the mouth. The person should not breathe in sharply. This may force the object in further.
  • Gently press and close the nostril that does NOT have the object in it. Ask the person to blow gently. This may help push the object out.  Avoid blowing the nose too hard or repeatedly.
  • If this method fails, get medical help.

Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if

Seek immediate medical help if:

  • The person cannot breathe well
  • Bleeding occurs and continues for more than 2 or 3 minutes after you remove the foreign object, despite placing gentle pressure on the nose
  • An object is stuck in both nostrils
  • You cannot easily remove a foreign object from the person's nose
  • You think an infection has developed in the nostril where the object is stuck

Prevention

Teach children to avoid placing foreign objects into their noses and other body openings.

Keep small objects out of the reach of infants and toddlers.

References

Thomas SH, White BA. Foreign bodies. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 57.

Updated: 1/1/2013

Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com