Foreign bodies in the ear

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What is it?

Foreign bodies can either be in the ear lobe or in the ear canal. Objects usually found in the ear lobe are earrings, either stuck in the lobe from infection or placed too deep during insertion. Foreign bodies in the ear canal can be anything a child can push into his or her ear. Some of the items that are commonly found in the ear canal include the following:

  • Food
  • Insects
  • Toys
  • Buttons
  • Pieces of crayon
  • Small batteries

It is important for parents to be aware that children may cause themselves or other children great harm by placing objects in the ear.

The reason children place things in their ears is usually because they are bored, curious, or copying other children. Sometimes, one child may put an object in another child’s ear during play. Insects may also fly into the ear canal, causing potential harm. It has also been noted that children with chronic outer ear infections tend to place things in their ears more often.

Some objects placed in the ear may not cause symptoms, while other objects, such as food and insects, may cause pain in the ear, redness, or drainage. Hearing may be affected if the object is blocking the ear canal.

The treatment for foreign bodies in the ear is prompt removal of the object by your child’s physician. The following are some of the techniques that may be used by your child’s physician to remove the object from the ear canal:

  • Instruments may be inserted in the ear
  • Magnets are sometimes used if the object is metal
  • Cleaning the ear canal with water
  • A machine with suction to help pull the object out

After removal of the object, your child’s physician will then re-examine the ear to determine if there has been any injury to the ear canal.

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