Nasal Foreign Bodies

.Your 3-year-old is “helping” his big sister (7 years old) clean her room. He finds a necklace of glass beads, and – of course – wonders whether they will fit into his nose. Because he is a little scientist, he performs an experiment, and voila – nasal foreign body.

An object that does not belong there – a “foreign body”.

Or, your 2-year-old has a foul smell, a bit like a piece of old fish, and there is some foul drainage from one side of her nose. Further investigation reveals that she has stuffed some upholstery foam into one side of her nose, resulting in rhinitis and sinusitis on that side (yuk!).

Common Nasal Foreign Bodies

Things (“foreign bodies”) that little boogorheads might put into their noses include:

  • Beads,
  • Buttons,
  • Toy parts (shoe from Polly Pocket, for example),
  • Pebbles,
  • Food,
  • Crumpled paper,
  • Small disk batteries.

Don’t ask “why” – they just do.

Not an Emergency – Unless

Here is the important thing to keep in mind: this is not an emergency, UNLESS the foreign body is a disk or “button” battery.


If you suspect that your infant, toddler or child has placed a disk battery into their nose or ear canal, or that they may have SWALLOWED a disk battery, take them to the Emergency Department of your local Children’s Hospital.

Right Now.

Image: Nasal Foreign Bodies

Image: Nasal Foreign Bodes

The figure shows the most likely places for a bead or other foreign body to lodge in the nose – either high in the front of the nose (at the front of the “middle turbinate”, site #1), or against the “inferior turbinate” (site #2).

Things to DO

  • Once you identify which side is affected, gently press the other nostril closed and have the child blow gently; this may blow the object free

Things NOT to DO

  • Do not search the nose with cotton swabs or other tools – that may push the object further into the nose, where it may be aspirated (site #4 on the figure)
  • Do not try to remove an object that you cannot see or grasp
  • Do not use tweezers or other tools to attempt removal – you may create nasal trauma

Seek Professional Help If

  • Bleeding develops or continues
  • There is a foreign object in both nostrils
  • You think that an infection has developed


  • Discourage your little boogorhead from putting objects into any body openings
  • Keep small objects out of reach of infants and toddlers – especially button batteries


Most of the time, your pediatrician or, more likely, your pediatric boogor doctor (Ear, Nose & Throat surgeon) will be able to remove an object from the nose in the clinic. Occasionally, due to a very wiggly, strong, or uncooperative child, this may need to be done in the operating room with the child sedated.

Your child may require surgery – general anesthetic – for removal of a nasal foreign body if the object is lodged securely, or if it is very deep. Anesthetic will keep your child comfortable and still, and help prevent further nasal trauma. If the object has caused a laceration to the lining of the nose it may require repair.


To repeat:  if you think that your child may have placed a disk battery into their nose or ear canal, or may have swallowed a disk battery, take them to the Emergency Department of your local Children’s Hospital NOW.


Hi, I’m Russell Faust, author of this medical education blog.

Russell Faust, PhD, MD boogordoctor

Image: Russell Faust

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Until next time, remember … you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose (unless you’re a boogor doctor ;~D)



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