Objects in the nose

It is very common for a young child or toddler to place something up their nose which in turn gets stuck. It can be easy to get upset and cross with your child, but it is important to remember that your child probably did not do it on purpose and it was most likely an accident due to experimentation to find out about the world and how things work. It is also necessary that you realise that your child is probably as worried and concerned about their actions as you are.

How do I know if my child has something in his nose?
If you do not actually witness the act of the object being pushed into your child’s nose, it is possible that you will not even know that it is there. However, there are some tell-tale signs that may help you to discover the object:

  • Your child may try to continuously ‘pick’ his nose and try to scratch at and play with his nose.
  • Your child may look guilty and worried – he is unlikely to admit his actions to you
  • Your child may get distressed and upset
  • Your child’s breathing through the nose may get louder as the nose is blocked
  • Your child may suffer from a nose-bleed
  • You may find that your child suffers from a runny nose from both nostrils
  • You may notice a slightly smelly discharge from the blocked nostril

What should I do if my child has an object stuck in the nose?

  • Do not panic and try to remain calm
  • If your child is distressed, try and calm him. Reassure your child, that everything will be okay.
  • If the object is low down in the nostril, you should encourage your child to blow his nose.  Gently squeezing closed the clear nostril as your child blows may also help to move the object.
  • A sneeze is also very good to help dislodge objects in the nose. (Unfortunately, sneezes cannot often be planned)
  • If you can see the object clearly and if it is near the nostril entrance, you could try to remove the object yourself using a blunt pair of tweezers although great care should be taken in order to not push the object further in to the nose.  It is best to not try this process yourself if the item is solid such as a marble.
  • You should take your child to see your doctor, to a walk-in clinic or to an Accident and Emergency centre as quickly as possible.  It is best to seek medical help as quickly as possible as some objects may such as a bean may swell and cause more problems if left.  A small battery inserted into the nose can also cause damage to your child’s nasal tissues and you will need emergency help if you suspect this is the item in your child’s nose. The doctor will then assess your child and will then remove the object.  This can usually be done very simply and easily.  In some cases, your child will be prescribed medication to reduce the risk of infection from the object.

How can I prevent my child from putting objects up their nose?
The best and only way to ensure that your child does not push objects into the nose is to watch your child all day, every day and always.  However, this is very unlikely to be possible.

You can limit the risk of this happening by ensuring that your child only ever plays with age appropriate toys and that you check all toys regularly to ensure there are no broken parts. You can also reduce the risk by ensuring the floor is clean and that any object which is dropped accidently is immediately picked up.

Unfortunately, your child may still find a small object which is then inserted into the nose such as a small stone whilst out walking or playing in the garden or a piece of toast or cereal from the breakfast table.

As your child gets older, you will be able to explain to your child that things are never to be inserted up the nose but until then, unfortunately, you will just need to watch your child and hope that he does not insert things into places where he shouldn’t.

by Jenny, mum to William and James

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