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Dealing with Foreign Body Inside the Ears

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Dealing with Foreign Body Inside the Ears

1 min read


Any foreign bodies that enter the ears need to be removed immediately with the help of a healthcare practitioner. Read the article to know more.

Medically reviewed by

iCliniq medical review team

Published At July 7, 2018
Reviewed AtAugust 1, 2023

You may come across this condition in your life, especially if there are children around. The foreign body inside ears is a widely common theme. Outside bodies are classified as living or nonliving. Nonliving remote bodies are further classified as organic and inorganic. Now, I will discuss each category.

Living foreign bodies such as fly, ant, spider, mosquito, larvae, and many types of bugs can get into our ears. You may see the insect getting into the ear of your kid and this makes the diagnosis easy. But, sometimes, you cannot see the insect getting into the ear. In this case, the diagnosis depends on the complaint of the patient and endoscopic examination of the ears. The patient may complain of a sensation of moving object inside the ear with or without pain. The pain is present if the insect bites. Alcohol is utilized to kill the bug, then the bug is pulled out of the ear by special instruments or just washed out with water.

Nonliving organic foreign bodies such as seeds and food particles can be pushed unintentionally into the ears. In this case, ear wash is contraindicated as It can cause swelling, making it more impacted in the ear. In this case, I like to utilize little forceps.

Nonliving inorganic foreign bodies such as little plastic balls and batteries can be brought incidentally into the ear. The common age group for this scenario is young children. It is a hazardous condition as by pushing it further, the kid can hurt the eardrum and even puncture it. In this case, I like to utilize snared instruments. Sometimes, the hard foreign body can be badly impacted and needs a careful surgical operation to move it out. In case the object is a little battery, you should rush to a healing center to expel it as soon as possible as the battery can release acids within a few hours of its insertion. These acids are corrosives which can damage the skin and disintegrate the ear bones.

Finally, I assert you not to attempt to expel foreign bodies from the ears yourself because while doing so, you can puncture the eardrum. A foreign body inside the ear is a crisis situation. If you ignore it, it will be even more difficult for the clinical practitioner to remove it.

For more information consult an ENT otolaryngologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/ENT-Otolaryngologist

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Consequence of Leaving a Foreign Body in the Ear?

Leaving a foreign object in the ear can cause complications, including pain, infection, and hearing loss. A delay in seeking professional help and the development of complications can make it more difficult to remove the object.


Is It an Emergency Situation to Have a Foreign Object Stuck in the Ear?

Right away, a stuck foreign is not an emergency or life-threatening. But people should seek medical help within 24 hours. Bleeding, severe pain, drainage, and signs of infections are signs of an emergent situation.


For How Long a Foreign Object Can Be Left in the Ear?

The longer an object is stuck, the harder it becomes to remove, increasing the chance of infection. Ideally, a foreign body should not be left in the ear for more than 24 hours. Small inert objects can safely stay in the ear for 1 to 2 weeks without creating complications.


How to Know if a Foreign Object Is Stuck in the Ear?

Adults are usually aware of getting something stuck accidentally and might feel some amount of pressure, pain, discomfort, and itchiness. Children would not be aware of the same, and the only way to know something is wrong is to examine them if they complain of ear pain, be cranky or cry inconsolably.


What Do Doctors Do to Remove Foreign Objects From the Ear?

If the stuck object is inanimate, the doctor uses a hook or tweezer to pull it out. In case an insect is stuck in the ear, the physician might use water,  mineral oil, or a safe chemical to first kill the insect before removing it in a similar manner.


Is It Safe to Put Oil in the Ear?

Although there is no solid evidence of any benefit of putting oil in the ears, it is unlikely to cause any harm. Usually, a few drops of mineral or baby oil is enough to soften the earwax.


What Are the Steps to Clean the Ear?

If an object is stuck in the ear and is within reach, it can be gently removed with a tweezer. People can use a rubber-bulb syringe and warm water to flush out small objects stuck in the canal. If there is wax build-up, it is advised to get it professionally cleaned. Cotton ear tips or earbuds should be only used to clear the outer part and not inserted into the canal. Soaking the canal with a few drops of mineral oil or baby oil can soften the wax.


What Is the Reason for Feeling Like Something Is Stuck in the Ear?

Getting a foreign body stuck in the ear canal may not be the only reason for having a feeling of having something in the ear. A feeling of something in the ear could indicate having extra fluid or air in the ear or even clogging in the eustachian tube.


What Foreign Objects Get Stuck in the Ear?

It often gets the better of their curiosities when children tend to get objects stuck in their nostrils and ear orifices. Not just children, adults may also accidentally get objects stuck. Commonly stuck foreign objects are crayon tips, small toy parts, food, eraser, buttons, pebbles, insects, seeds, and small batteries.


Is It Possible for the Body to Push Out Foreign Objects?

It is not possible for the body to push out objects stuck in nostrils and ears, but splinters can get removed from the skin with normal skin shedding. Small ingested objects usually pass through the gastrointestinal tract and defecate with the stool.


What Can Be Done to Get Rid of a Foreign Body?

Foreign objects lodged in the skin can be removed with tweezers, objects in the ear canal may be removed with tweezers either by someone or a medical professional, and ingested objects may either defecate with stool (small objects) or require surgery (for bigger objects).


How to Diagnose a Stuck Foreign Object?

After clinical examination, for additional information about the location of the foreign object, the physician may order imaging studies like ultrasound, X-ray, CT (computed tomography) scans, or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). However, for metallic objects, MRIs are contraindicated.


What Is the Consequence of Aspirating a Foreign Object?

Aspirating a foreign body can cause coughing, wheezing, and dyspnea to hemoptysis and choking. This may require immediate medical attention as these objects can cause serious medical complications. Objects stuck in the upper tract can be ejected out by the Heimlich maneuver, a failure of which warrants a 911 call, paramedics, and ER interventions.


How Is a Foreign Body Aspiration Categorized Into Three Phases?

The triad of foreign body aspiration:
- Initial Accident: Acute and severe coughing, choking, gagging, bruising, cyanosis, and airway obstruction.
- Asymptomatic Phase: Foreign body settles, and the initial phase symptoms subside.
- Complication Phase: Scar, obstruction, or infection.
Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Mohammed Osama Aboborda
Dr. Mohammed Osama Aboborda

Otolaryngology (E.N.T)


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