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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Objects in the Nose
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Young children are more likely than older children or adults to put small objects—such as beads, dried beans, popcorn, plastic toy pieces, foam rubber, or small batteries—up their noses. If the child doesn't tell you about it, your first clue may be a bad-smelling green or yellow discharge or blood (epistaxis) from one of the child's nostrils. The child's nose may also be tender and swollen.
Some objects in the nose cause more problems than others. Disc batteries (also called button cell batteries) are more dangerous than other objects and should be removed immediately. The moist tissue in the nose can cause the battery to release strong chemicals (alkali) quickly, often in less than 1 hour. This can cause serious damage to the sensitive mucous membranes lining the nose. Seeds, such as beans or popcorn, can swell from the moistness of the nasal tissue, making removal harder.
An object in the nose may cause some irritation and swelling of the mucous membranes inside the nose. This swelling can cause a stuffy nose, making it hard to breathe through the nose.
Infection can develop in the nose or in the sinuses following the insertion of an object. The longer the object is in the nose, the more likely it is that an infection will develop. The first sign of infection is usually increased drainage from the nose. It is usually from only one nostril. The drainage may be clear at first but turns yellow, green, or brown. The drainage may have an unpleasant odor. As the infection progresses, symptoms of sinusitis or another infection will develop.
An object inserted in the nose may cause a nosebleed if the object irritates the tissues in the nose. The nasal tissue can be damaged from pressure against the object. This is called pressure necrosis.
Older children and adults can also inhale objects while working closely with small objects. Nose rings and metal studs from nose piercings can also cause nose problems. A piece of glass may enter the nose during an automobile accident. You may be unaware of this because of other injuries that occur during the accident.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Symptoms of difficulty breathing can range from mild to severe. For example:
Severe trouble breathing means:
Moderate trouble breathing means:
Mild trouble breathing means:
Symptoms of infection in the nose may include:
Disc batteries are small, round batteries used in toys, cameras, watches, and other devices. Because of the chemicals they can release, they can cause serious problems if they are swallowed or get stuck in an ear or the nose. Small magnets used in household items and objects that contain a lot of lead (such as bullets, buckshot, fishing weights and sinkers, and some toys) also can cause problems if swallowed.
There are a couple of ways to remove an object from the nose:
To remove an object from a child's nose, you can also try the "kiss" technique:
Don't try this if it makes you nervous or if the child gets upset or says it hurts.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in adults are:
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in children are:
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you need emergency care.
Call 911 or other emergency services now.
Sometimes people don't want to call 911. They may think that their symptoms aren't serious or that they can just get someone else to drive them. Or they might be concerned about the cost. But based on your answers, the safest and quickest way for you to get the care you need is to call 911 for medical transport to the hospital.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
Follow these steps to remove an object from the nose:
You may be able to remove an object from a child's nose using the "kiss technique." Do not try this if you are uncomfortable with it, if your child says it hurts, or if your child becomes upset by your attempts:
Some tenderness and nasal stuffiness are common after removing an object from the nose. Home treatment will often relieve a tender, stuffy nose and make breathing easier.
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
Call your doctor if one or more of the following symptoms occur during home treatment:
Small children love to explore their surroundings. They are also curious about their bodies. To prevent children from inserting objects into their noses:
Older children or adults should be cautious when working with small objects or if they have nose piercings.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topicMaking the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your health professional diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
Current as of:
July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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