Foreign body in the ear

A foreign body in the ear is considered as a common problem, especially among toddlers. In most cases, items are lodged in the ear canal which is the small channel that ends at the eardrum. Due to the sensitive nature of the ear canal, you can easily determine if there is something present in your ear.

foreign body in the ear

Pain and sensation of foreign object are the common symptoms.

Majority of cases of foreign body in the ear are not serious. Nevertheless, the object lodged can be removed completely and with minimal discomfort and danger. Common objects include beads, toys, food material and insects. Children often put items in their ears out of curiosity.

Causes of foreign body in the ear

Many objects that are lodged in the ears are placed voluntarily especially by children for various reasons. Parents and caregivers should not threaten a child about this possibility since the child might deny putting something in the ear just to avoid punishment.

Some insects can crawl into the ear, usually when asleep. Sleeping on the floor or outdoors can increase the risk for this unpleasant experience.

Symptoms of a foreign body in the ear

Luckily, majority of individuals can tell if there is something present in the ear. The ear canal where most objects are lodged in is very sensitive. The ear canal ends at the eardrum which is also sensitive. The symptoms typically depend on the shape, size and substance involved.

  • Pain is considered the most common symptom. In case the object blocks most of the ear canal, the individual can experience diminished hearing on that side.
  • In some cases, the foreign body is not detected and cannot be detected, resulting to an infection in the ear. There is an ongoing infectious drainage from the ear.
  • There is also irritation to the ear canal that can make the individual nauseated causing him/her to vomit.
  • Bleeding can occur especially if the object lodged in is sharp or other items are used in an attempt to remove the object.
  • In case of a live insect in the ear, the movement can cause buzzing in the ear that can be uncomfortable.

When to seek medical care

Most of the objects that are lodged in the ear should be checked by a doctor or simply take the individual to the emergency department for safe removal of the object. In case the foreign body is not causing any symptoms and the doctor’s office is closed, it can be examined the next day. If an individual has a foreign body in the ear with the following, it is best to consult doctor.

  • Foreign body in the ear can damage the eardrum which may or may not affect hearing.
  • Persistent bleeding, pain or discharge from the ear can indicate that the ear passages have not been cleared completely.
  • Button batteries are lodged in the ear. Take note that there is a tendency for chemicals to leak out, thus causing a burn. Urgent removed is vital.
  • Food or plant material can swell once moistened.
  • Objects that cause significant discomfort or pain.


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