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.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Your age. Babies and older
adults tend to get sicker quicker.
Your overall health. If you have a condition such as diabetes, HIV, cancer, or heart
disease, you may need to pay closer attention to certain symptoms and seek care
Medicines you take. Certain
medicines, herbal remedies, and supplements can cause symptoms or make them
Recent health events, such as surgery
or injury. These kinds of events can cause symptoms afterwards or make them
Your health habits and lifestyle, such as eating and exercise habits, smoking, alcohol or drug
use, sexual history, and travel.
There are a couple of ways to remove an object from the nose:
On the side that does not contain that object,
press the nostril closed. Then blow hard through the nostril on the other
If your child can stay calm and you can see the object and grasp it, try to remove the object with tweezers. Do not try to grasp round objects because you could push the object farther back into the nostril. (Be careful not to
hurt the inside of the nose with the tweezers.)
To remove an object from a child's nose, you can also try the "kiss" technique:
On the side that doesn't contain the object, press the nostril closed with your finger. (Or have the child do it, if he or she is old enough.)
Then blow a puff of air into the child's mouth. You may need to repeat this several times. The pressure will help push the object out of the nose.
Don't try this if it makes you nervous or if the child gets upset or says it hurts.
Call 911 Now
Based on your answers, you need
Call911or other emergency services now.
Severe trouble breathing means:
You cannot talk at all.
You have to
work very hard to breathe.
You feel like you can't get enough
You do not feel alert or cannot think clearly.
Moderate trouble breathing means:
It's hard to talk in full
It's hard to breathe with activity.
Mild trouble breathing means:
You feel a little out of breath but can still talk.
It's becoming hard to breathe with activity.
Disc batteries are small, round
batteries used in toys, cameras, watches, and other devices. Because of the
chemicals they can release, they can cause serious problems if they are
swallowed or get stuck in an ear or the nose. Small magnets used in household items and objects that contain a lot of lead (such as bullets, buckshot, fishing weights and sinkers, and some toys) also can cause problems if
If a disc battery is stuck in the ear or nose:
The battery needs to be removed right
away—within 1 hour if possible.
Use tweezers to try to remove the
battery. If you can't remove it, get medical help.
If you have swallowed a disc battery, magnet, or lead object:
Get medical help right away.
Do not try to
Do not eat or drink anything.
Removing an object from the nose
Follow these steps
to remove an object from the nose:
Breathe through your mouth since the nose is
Pinch closed the side of the nose that doesn't have the
object in it, and try to blow the object out of the blocked side. You may need
to help a child pinch his or her nose.
Blow your nose forcefully
several times. This may blow the object out of the nose.
object is partially out of the nose, you may be able to remove it. Stay still,
and remove the object with your fingers or blunt-nosed tweezers. Be careful not
to push the object farther into the nose. If a child resists or is not able to
stay still, do not attempt to remove the object.
bleeding from your nose may occur after the object is removed. This usually is
not serious and should stop after firmly pinching your nose shut for 10
how to stop a nosebleed.
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
Apply pressure to close the child's unaffected
nostril. You can do this, or the child can help by holding his or her finger on
the unaffected side of the nose.
Blow a puff of air into the
child's mouth. The positive pressure of this puff will help push the object out
of the child's nose. You may need to repeat this activity several times.
Home treatment after removing an object from the nose
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
Drink extra fluids for 2 to 3 days to keep
Breathe moist air from a humidifier, hot shower, or
sink filled with hot water.
Increase the humidity in your home,
especially in the bedroom.
Use a saline nasal spray to help loosen mucus.
If your nose is still stuffy, you can try an oral decongestant or use a
decongestant nasal spray. But be careful with these medicines. They may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems, so check the label first. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and weight. Oral decongestants are not as helpful as nasal sprays
in children. Do not use a decongestant nasal spray for longer than 3 days.
Overuse of decongestant sprays may cause the mucous membranes to swell up more
than before (rebound effect). Avoid products containing antihistamines, which
dry the nasal tissue.
Check the back of your throat for postnasal
drip. If streaks of mucus appear, gargle with warm water to prevent a sore
Elevate your head at night by sleeping on an extra pillow.
This will decrease nasal stuffiness.
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription
medicine to help treat your fever or pain:
Aspirin (also a nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drug), such as Bayer or Bufferin
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:
Carefully read and follow all directions
on the medicine bottle and box.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.