Ear Canal

Foreign Bodies

What are Foreign Bodies?

Children sometimes put things (beads, pips, paper) into their ears, sometimes into their noses as well! Often they don’t own up. If a foreign body is present for a period of time there may be a discharge (especially if it is moist – a pea or play dough). All children who put things into their ears should be examined closely for Glue Ear. It is often the ‘annoyance’ of a blocked ear that causes the child to play with them.

In adults the foreign body is usually some form of ear cleaning device (match, twig or cotton bud).

Occasionally an insect or spider makes their way into an ear, creating much stress with their footsteps and buzzing. First aid treatment is to fill the ear canal with warm water with the patient lying on their side, the insect will either float to the surface for easy removal or will at least drown, and be still and quiet, until it can be removed under a microscope.

How should they be removed?

Safe removal of foreign bodies requires skill, specialised instruments and microscopic vision. No one without these should attempt removal.

Never use tweezers or forceps, the object often slips and goes deeper towards the ear drum.