Foreign Body Removal

A foreign body is defined as anything lodged in the human body but doesn’t belong there. Objects may be introduced deliberately or by accident. Foreign bodies are commonly found in the eyes, ears and nose.

Wash your hands before attempting to remove a foreign body from your own or someone else’s eye. Examine the eye area to determine where the object is stuck. Use warm water to flush the object from the eye. Never rub affected eyes or attempt to pull out anything embedded in the eye surface or lid.

Unusual objects are more often found in the ears of children than adults. Kids may put things in their ears out of curiosity and subsequently be unable to remove them. If you can see the object, you may be able to dislodge it carefully with tweezers. Never stick a cotton swab or other tool down into the ear canal, as this may drive the object deeper.

Kids also have a tendency to place objects up their noses. As with foreign bodies in the ear, you can attempt to remove visible objects using tweezers. Having your child blow out gently through his or her nose may also be effective. Anything lodged more deeply may require a visit to the doctor to be removed using suction. Never attempt to pull out a sharp or otherwise dangerous object by yourself.

The most common symptom of having a foreign object stuck in the body is discomfort or pain. Other symptoms vary depending on the location of the object:

• Nasal drainage
• Abnormal vision
• Difficulty breathing
• Bleeding
• Persistent pain after foreign body removal

Objects lodged in sensitive areas may cause damage if not properly addressed, and foreign body removal shouldn’t be attempted if the object is stuck deeply or is in an unusual location. Foreign bodies that are blocking airways require immediate medical attention at an emergency room or urgent care center. Objects that become stuck as the result of accidents or trauma should also be examined by a doctor due to the potential for other associated injuries.

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