A nose may look as cute as a button, but it’s no laughing matter
if a button gets stuck inside of it. You may be surprised how often people
need help getting beads, small toys and other things out of their noses.
“The nose is the gateway to a series of chambers and passageways
that must remain clear to allow us to breathe, and anything that obstructs
those passageways causes both discomfort and danger,” says
Eric Waki, MD, an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist or ENT) with
St. Jude Affiliated Physicians in Fullerton. “A blocked nasal cavity presents a choking hazard,
and the foreign object may cause bleeding and damage the sensitive mucosal
linings of the airway.”
More often than not, it’s children who wind up with things stuck
in their noses. If you child is having sinus difficultis or unexplained
nasal discharges, it may be worth looking to see if he has something stuck
in his nose. In adults, the situation is usually the result of an accident,
a misadventure like a dare or a bet, or inserting something into the nose
in an attempt to relieve chronic sinus irritation.
Common types of things that get stuck in the nose run the gamut from plastic
parts, toys, beads and household items, to small pieces of food like beans
and popcorn kernels. Nose rings, studs and pieces of jewelry sometimes
become lodged in the nose of a person with facial piercings.
“It is possible to administer first aid to someone with a nasal foreign
body and attempt to remove it yourself but when an object has become lodged
in a nasal passage, the priority is making sure the person can breathe,”
Dr. Waki says. “Call 911 or go the emergency room if the person
is choking or is having difficulty getting enough air.”
If the person is not choking, tell him to continue breathing normally through
the mouth and to make sure not to inhale the object. Ask the person to
close the other nostril and gently—gently-- blow through the blocked nostril to try and dislodge the object.
If blowing the nose does not work, you can then see if it is possible to
remove the object. Your ability to get the object out is going to depend
on where it’s located, what it’s made out of, if you can grasp
the object firmly, and how much the person can or will cooperate, says Dr. Waki.
“There’s a better chance of being able to grasp the object
if it is made of something soft like rubber or paper than if it is hard
or round like a bead or a pebble. If the person won’t sit still,
or is too nervous to allow you to check him out, don’t try to do
anything yourself,” Dr. Waki adds.
Dr. Waki cautions that self-removal of a nasal foreign body requires extra
care and a delicate touch.
“Only try to take it out if you can easily see it and easily get
ahold of it with tweezers or fingers. Do not probe the object with a tool,
and do not push it any further in. If you are not successful in the first
or second attempt, do not keep trying, because repeated failed attempts
hurt and may wedge the object further inside, making removal more difficult,”
Dr. Waki says.
If the nose is bleeding and will not stop, or if the object can’t
be fully removed, or if you are uncomfortable trying to remove it, go
to the emergency room or see an ENT.
A skilled ENT like Dr. Waki has the techniques to remove almost any foreign
body from the nose without any after-effects other than perhaps slight
bleeding or tenderness.
“Your nose may be stuffy for a few days afterwards,” says Dr.
Waki. “A humidifier or decongestants can help relieve the stuffiness.
You may also be prescribed medication or antibiotics to prevent infection.
Call your doctor if the nose starts to appear infected.”
Have you or your child ever needed treatment for a foreign body in the
nose? Share a comment below.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.