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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
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
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.
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.
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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
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
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.
Call your doctor if one or more of the following symptoms occur during
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:
March 23, 2011
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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