A foreign body is something that is in the body but does not belong there. Foreign objects can be inserted accidentally or intentionally, be inhaled or swallowed, or result from an injury. Foreign bodies are most commonly found in children, who frequently insert things into their mouths, ears, and noses.
Some common symptoms of a foreign object in the body include:
If the person is choking or having trouble breathing, seek emergency medical attention or call 911.
The most common parts of the body for foreign objects to be found are the ears, nose, airway, and stomach.
Both children and adults can accidentally inhale objects in their mouths, such as food or gum. Children are especially prone to this.
Out of natural curiosity, young children may place objects into their ears or nose. Objects that commonly become stuck in the ears or nose include:
If your child has swallowed a battery or a magnet, seek immediate medical attention – this is an emergency situation.
If an object is trapped in an airway, seek immediate medical attention or call 911.
Objects can also pass into the stomach. Coins are the objects most commonly swallowed by children. Often, if the object is in the gastrointestinal tract and is a benign object such as a coin, it may pass in the stool.
Since young children are at the highest risk of putting foreign objects in their bodies, prevention involves keeping small objects out of reach.
About 80 percent of foreign body ingestions pass through the gastrointestinal tract without causing any symptoms or complications.
Items that are small and rounded are less likely to cause complications. If the foreign body is large, sharp, or toxic, urgent medical intervention is necessary.
The treatment for a foreign item in the body usually involves removing the object.
To remove a foreign body in the eye:
If an object becomes lodged in the ear:
To remove a foreign object from the nose:
You can usually safely remove a small foreign object – such as a wood splinter, thorn, fiberglass, or glass – if it is lodged just under the surface of the skin:
See a health care provider if:
Patient First can perform non-emergency foreign body removal at our urgent care centers. You can come into any Patient First center from 8 a.m. to 8 pm any day of the week – no appointment is needed.
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