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What to Do When Kids Put Things up Their Nose

The first time your child gets something stuck up their nose may be a frightening experience. This is known as a foreign object nasal obstruction. This usually happens to curious children who just happen to think it might be a good idea to see if a watermelon seed might sprout up there.

Kids naturally have the curiosity to put things where they don’t belong. They rearrange your cupboards, put things in power outlets, and they even put things up their nose. Sometimes, they will tell you that something is in their nose. While at other times, your children might put things in their nose and then forget about it.

How to Know Your Child Has Something Stuck up Their Nose

Sometimes, the objects that are shoved up your child's nose will be large enough that you can see the object. However, sometimes the objects will be small enough that you will not know unless your child tells you. So how will you know that the foreign object is up there? A few signs to watch for include:

Nasal congestion on one side Bloody nosesBad breath (halitosis)

What to Do

Once you've established that something is indeed up your child's nose, here are a few suggestions that you can use to get the object out.

Don't pull it out unless it is hanging out of the nose, safely within reach, and you are certain it has not damaged any tissue.Do not try to remove items in the nose using cotton swabs, tweezers, or other household items. Doing so may push the object further up the nose.If your child is old enough to understand, advise him to breathe through his mouth as not to suck the object up further.In an attempt to blow the object out, have your child close the clear nostril and lightly blow out. Be careful not to forcefully blow out or accidentally inhale through the nose while doing this. One or two tries should be sufficient if this method will work. Repeatedly trying may cause more damage to the nose.Seek medical help at once if you cannot dislodge or see the object.

One method that has been trialed in Canada and England includes the Mother's or Parent's Kiss. The term "kiss" is used to help reduce the stress of the procedure with your child. This may be less stressful than being restrained in the hospital if your child is resistant. No adverse complications have been noted in eight trials, so this should be safe if performed carefully, however it is only effective approximately six out of 10 times. To perform this:

What for your child to inhale.When your child is exhaling, close the nostril that does not have the foreign object."Kiss" your child using a technique like a mouth-to-mouth.Blow out until you feel resistance. This means the glottis (opening between the vocal cords) has closed.Then use a quick blow to try and push the object out of your child's nose.

What to Expect at the Hospital

The hospital will have specialized equipment including suction, hooks, glues, and catheters. Each technique can have some risk for trauma if the objects are severely wedged, however, the emergency department team will be prepared to treat nosebleeds that occur from the procedure. While the hospital may use suction, you should never use a vacuum cleaner to try and remove a foreign object. If the doctor suspects that a foreign object was swallowed, they will likely have an X-ray of the chest and abdomen done to see if there are any objects in the lungs or stomach. Sharp objects that are ingested are particularly dangerous and would require surgery.


Of course, prevention is the best course of action. There is no perfectly childproofed home. But you can try to keep smaller objects out of your child’s roaming area in order to help prevent this from happening. Education is also key. Try to teach children that other than eating, things do not belong in our mouths, ears, or nose.

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