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Object in the Ear: Care Instructions


An insect or an object in the ear usually does not damage the ear. But some objects in the ear can cause problems. For example, dry food can expand in the ear, and a battery can release chemicals. Objects that have been in the ear for longer than 24 hours are harder to remove and can cause pain, infection, or bleeding. If an object is pushed hard into the ear, it may damage the eardrum.

Your doctor probably removed the object from your ear during your exam. Your ear may feel tender for a few days.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Your doctor may have used medicine to numb your ear. When it wears off, your ear pain may return. Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Your doctor may prescribe eardrops. To put in eardrops:
    • First warm the drops by rolling the container in your hands or placing it in your armpit for a few minutes. Putting cold eardrops in your ear can cause ear pain and dizziness.
    • Lie down, with your ear facing up.
    • Place the prescribed amount of drops on the inside wall of the ear canal. Gently wiggle the outer ear to help the drops move down into the ear.
    • It's important to keep the liquid in the ear canal for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • You can put heat on the ear to relieve pain. Use a warm face cloth or a heating pad set on low.
  • Do not put cotton swabs, bobby pins, or other objects in the ear. Do not put any liquids in the ear, unless your doctor directs you to.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of an ear infection, such as:
    • You have new or worse pain, swelling, warmth, or redness around or behind your ear.
    • You have a fever with a stiff neck or severe headache.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You are not getting better.
  • You have not been able to remove the object after 2 days (48 hours).
  • You have new or worse symptoms.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.