The presence of a foreign body in the nose is apparent in young children who tend to stick small objects into their mouth, nose and ears. While often harmless, this can create a choking hazard and put them in danger of more serious injuries or infections. Common objects found in noses tend to include food material, beads, rocks, clay, dirt and toys. Therefore, it is essential to prevent this action by providing younger children with age appropriate toys in good condition as well as keeping potentially dangerous objects away from their reach.  

Treatment options for a foreign body in the nose involve removing the foreign object from the nostril through instances such as blowing of the nose or removing the object using tweezers. In more severe cases, seeking medical assistance is advised. The doctor may use a suction machine to suction the object out of the nostril or other instruments to grasp at it. If in any case foul-smelling nasal discharge is present, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat or prevent an infection.

What are the symptoms associated with a foreign body in the nose?

The longer the foreign object is in the nose, the more likely it is that an infection will develop. The first symptom to appear as a result of an infection includes foul-smelling nasal discharge. Other symptoms may include the following:

  • Discomfort
  • Itching and/or pain
  • Slight bleeding (nosebleed)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing

What to do

It is advisable to maintain an upright position, standing with the head straight and proceed to remove the foreign object from the nasal cavity by blowing the nose gently. If only one nostril is affected, closing the opposite one by applying gentle pressure to it and then blowing can help loosen the object or set it free. This operation can be resolved quickly, though in cases regarding a foreign body placed in greater depth and where all other methods have failed, it is advisable to go to the emergency room. A doctor is likely to diagnose the situation and determine the most appropriate form of treatment, while easing symptoms and preventing further complications from occurring. Surgery may be recommended in cases where the foreign body is deep within the nasal cavity or to treat damage caused by the foreign body.

A few measures that can help prevent problems regarding foreign bodies in the nose include: discouraging children from putting small objects into their mouth or nose, teaching them to avoid body openings, cutting up their food into appropriate sizes, and keeping small objects away from their reach. 

What not to do

Instructions on what not to do in cases involving a foreign body in the nose include the following:

  • Avoid removing the object manually or with tools (this can push the object even deeper into the nostril and worsen the situation)
  • Avoid searching the nose with cotton swabs or other tools
  • Avoid removing the object if it is not visible or easily grasped
  • Avoid inhaling the object by breathing in sharply
  • Avoid blowing the nose too hard or repeatedly to set the object free (this can cause bleeding and pain)


Disclaimer: The information in this article does not in any way replace the intervention or signs associated with this type of emergency, but rather only provides simple tips as how to keep the situation under control while waiting for a medical rescue team to arrive.