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First Aid for Foreign Object in the Ear

Last updated March 5, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD MPH

Foreign Object in the Ear is the presence of a foreign body object in an individual's external ear canal.


What is Foreign Object in the Ear?

  • It is the presence of a foreign body/object in the external ear canal of an individual. This condition is common in children
  • The Foreign Objects in the Ear could also be insects (such as a fly or ant), mud, batteries, small stones, chewing gum, or beads. In many cases, small objects located at the entrance of the ear, when clearly and completely visible, may be carefully extracted

What are the Causes of Foreign Object in the Ear?

Factors that could cause Foreign Objects in the Ear include:

  • Voluntarily inserting objects into the ear (buttons, crayon pieces, paper balls, beads, seeds, cotton, toy parts); usually observed in children
  • Accidents
  • Children playing in the yard (insects can enter their ear canal) 

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Foreign Object in the Ear?

The signs and symptoms of Foreign Object in the Ear include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Dizziness
  • Bleeding from the ear
  • Sense of fullness in the ear
  • Hearing loss

How is First Aid administered for Foreign Object in the Ear?

First Aid tips for Foreign Object in the Ear include:

Remove the object, only if it is clearly visible and can be easily removed:

  • DO NOT use any sharp objects to remove the object in the ear
  • Try to lean the head in the direction of affected ear, to remove the object
  • If the foreign body is an insect, pour warm (NOT HOT) oil in the ear to remove the insect

Seek medical assistance if:

  • Foreign object cannot be removed
  • Hearing loss
  • There is pain or bleeding in the ear
  • Signs of infection
  • Dizziness 

Who should administer First Aid for Foreign Object in the Ear?

Anyone in close proximity of the affected individual can provide First Aid, if the foreign body is visible.

You must seek medical attention, if you are unable to visually sight the foreign body; or if there is pain, bleeding, hearing impairment; or if you are unsure of the type of object.

What is the Prognosis of Foreign Object in the Ear?

The prognosis for Foreign Object in the Ear is usually good. 

How can Foreign Object in the Ear be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Foreign Objects in the Ear:

  • Keep children away from sharp objects
  • Do not let children play unsupervised; especially with small toys, seeds, beads, etc.

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Tilt head, in the direction of the ear with the foreign body, to ease removal
  • DO NOT insert a sharp object for removal of any foreign object, from the ear
  • Seek appropriate medical attention

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Oct. 15, 2013
Last updated: March 5, 2018