Child care: How to deal with a foreign body in the nose

Due to the naturally inquisitive nature of children, they are at risk for ending up with a foreign body in the nose. In most cases, a child might place foreign objects into their ears, mouth or nose. Even though harmless, this poses as a choking hazard and puts a child at risk for serious harm or infections.

A foreign body in the nose is simply any object that is not expected to be there. Children below 5 years old often face this issue although it is not unusual for older children to insert objects up into the nostrils.

What are the common objects?

  • Tissue
  • Small-sized toys
  • Pieces of eraser
    Foreign body in the nose

    There is difficulty breathing via the affected nostril which occurs once the object blocks the nostril, thus making it hard for the air to move via the passage.

  • Dirt
  • Food
  • Pebbles
  • Clay
  • Button batteries
  • Paired disc magnets

Remember that children might place these objects into their noses due to curiosity or they are imitating other children. Nevertheless, foreign objects can also enter the nose while a child is asleep or when trying to smell or sniff an object.

What are the indications of a foreign body in the nose?

A child might be suspected of having a foreign body in the nose, but you might not be able to see it upon checking. The presence of a foreign body might trigger other signs such as the following:

  • Nasal drainage – the presence of a foreign body in the nostril can lead to nasal drainage that might be gray, clear or blood-streaked. It might also have a bad odor which is an indication of an infection.
  • Breathing difficulty – there is difficulty breathing via the affected nostril which occurs once the object blocks the nostril, thus making it hard for the air to move via the passage. There is also a whistle-like sound while breathing via the nose which is due to the clogged object.

Management

  • You have to stay calm if you see an object in the nose of a child. Remember that the child might panic if you are also panicking.
  • The ideal treatment is removal of the foreign object from the nostril. In some circumstances, gentle blowing of the nose is the solution to manage the condition.
  • You can also use tweezers to remove the object, but make sure that it is only used on bigger objects. Take note that tweezers might only push further smaller objects up the nose.
  • Do not stick your fingers or cotton swabs in the nose since this will only push the object deeper into the nose.
  • Instruct the child to stop sniffing since it can cause the object to move deeper into the nose and can pose as a choking hazard. Encourage the child to breath via the mouth until the object is removed.
  • Bring the child to the nearest emergency department if the object could not be removed using tweezers. The doctor might place a topical anesthetic within the nose to slightly numb the area.
  • The doctor might recommend antibiotics or nasal drops to manage an infection.

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