Young children are more likely than older children or adults to put small objects—such as beads, dried beans, popcorn, plastic toy pieces, foam rubber, or small batteries—up their noses. If the child doesn't tell you about it, your first clue may be a bad-smelling green or yellow discharge or blood (epistaxis) from one of the child's nostrils. The child's nose may also be tender and swollen.
Some objects in the nose cause more problems than others. Disc batteries (also called button cell batteries) are more dangerous than other objects and should be removed immediately. The moist tissue in the nose can cause the battery to release strong chemicals (alkali) quickly, often in less than 1 hour. This can cause serious damage to the sensitive mucous membranes lining the nose. Seeds, such as beans or popcorn, can swell from the moistness of the nasal tissue, making removal harder.
An object in the nose may cause some irritation and swelling of the mucous membranes inside the nose. This swelling can cause a stuffy nose, making it hard to breathe through the nose.
Infection can develop in the nose or in the sinuses following the insertion of an object. The longer the object is in the nose, the more likely it is that an infection will develop. The first sign of infection is usually increased drainage from the nose. It is usually from only one nostril. The drainage may be clear at first but turns yellow, green, or brown. The drainage may have an unpleasant odor. As the infection progresses, symptoms of sinusitis or another infection will develop.
An object inserted in the nose may cause a nosebleed if the object irritates the tissues in the nose. The nasal tissue can be damaged from pressure against the object. This is called pressure necrosis.
Older children and adults can also inhale objects while working closely with small objects. Nose rings and metal studs from nose piercings can also cause nose problems. A piece of glass may enter the nose during an automobile accident. You may be unaware of this because of other injuries that occur during the accident.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
Follow these steps to remove an object from the nose:
You may be able to remove an object from a child's nose using the "kiss technique." Do not try this if you are uncomfortable with it, if your child says it hurts, or if your child becomes upset by your attempts:
Some tenderness and nasal stuffiness are common after removing an object from the nose. Home treatment will often relieve a tender, stuffy nose and make breathing easier.
|Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:|
Talk to your child’s doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
|Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:|
Call your doctor if one or more of the following symptoms occur during home treatment:
Small children love to explore their surroundings. They are also curious about their bodies. To prevent children from inserting objects into their noses:
Older children or adults should be cautious when working with small objects or if they have nose piercings.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your health professional diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine|
|Last Revised||March 23, 2011|
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