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Young children are more likely than older children or adults to put small objects up their noses. These include things like beads, dried beans, popcorn, plastic toy pieces, foam rubber, or small batteries. 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. They should be removed right away. 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 that line the nose. Seeds, such as beans or popcorn, can swell from the moistness of the nasal tissue. This can make them hard to remove.
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 and make it hard to breathe through the nose.
Infection can occur in the nose or in the sinuses after an object is inserted. 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's usually from only one nostril. The drainage may be clear at first but then turns yellow, green, or brown. It may smell bad. As the infection gets worse, symptoms of sinusitis or another infection will develop.
An object put 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 a car crash. You may not be aware of this because of other injuries.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Symptoms of difficulty breathing can range from mild to severe. For example:
Severe trouble breathing means:
Moderate trouble breathing means:
Mild trouble breathing means:
Symptoms of infection in the nose may include:
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 swallowed.
There are a couple of ways to remove an object from the nose:
To remove an object from a child's nose, you can also try the "kiss" technique:
Don't try this if it makes you nervous or if the child gets upset or says it hurts.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in adults are:
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in children are:
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you need emergency care.
Call 911 or other emergency services now.
Sometimes people don't want to call 911. They may think that their symptoms aren't serious or that they can just get someone else to drive them. Or they might be concerned about the cost. But based on your answers, the safest and quickest way for you to get the care you need is to call 911 for medical transport to the hospital.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
You may need to help a child pinch their nose.
Be sure to only blow out. Don't try to breathe in through your nose. This could cause the object to choke you or block your airway.
This may blow the object out of the nose.
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.
Some minor bleeding from the nose may occur after the object is removed. This usually is not serious and should stop after firmly pinching the nose shut for 10 minutes.
A disc battery in the nose must 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.
If you or your child has a disc battery in the nose, do not use nose drops or sprays of any type. This can cause the battery to corrode more quickly.
You may try to remove the disc battery yourself. But if you are not able to remove it, contact your doctor immediately. If you are not able to contact your doctor, go to the nearest hospital emergency department.
Disc batteries are found in toys, watches, hearing aids, cameras, calculators, and some remote-controlled devices. They are also called button cell batteries. These batteries are small, usually less than 1.3 cm (0.5 in.) across, and can be easily inserted into 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 breathing easier.
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. Avoid products that contain antihistamines, which dry the nasal tissue.
Call a doctor if any of the following occur during self-care at home:
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared for your appointment.
Current as of: November 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise StaffClinical Review Board: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: November 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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