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First Aid for Foreign Object Inhaled

Last updated March 5, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH


Foreign Object Inhaled is the accidental entry of foreign object into airways through the nostrils.

What is Foreign Object Inhaled?

  • It is the accidental entry of foreign object into airways through the nostrils. This condition may be mild or severe, requiring emergency medical attention, depending on where the object is lodged
  • The condition can lead to irritation, pain, and discharge from the nose. In many cases, Foreign Objects Inhaled are removed by a qualified medical professional

What are the Causes of Foreign Object Inhaled?

Accidental inhalation of toys (toy-parts), stones, beads, and other debris.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Foreign Object Inhaled?

The signs and symptoms of ‘Foreign Object Inhaled’ include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irritation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Discharge or bleeding from nose
  • Pain

How is First Aid administered for Foreign Object Inhaled?

Call 911 (or your local emergency number), or seek immediate medical attention. While awaiting help from a qualified medical professional, the following First Aid may be administered for ‘Foreign Object Inhaled’:

If the inhaled object causes choking:

  • Perform 5 back blows with the heel of the hand, between the shoulder blades of the victim
  • Perform 5 abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver)
    • Standing behind the person, grab the person around the abdomen with both hands, and one hand rolled into a fist
    • Have the person tip forward slightly and press the abdomen hard with an upward thrust, as if trying to lift the person up
  • Keep performing 5 blows and 5 abdominal thrusts alternatively, till the blockage is dislodged
  • If you are performing abdominal thrusts on yourself:
    • Hold fist of one hand with the other, a little above the navel
    • Bend over on a hard surface and move fist upward and inward

Who should administer First Aid for Foreign Object Inhaled?

The individual (himself/herself) with ‘Foreign Object Inhaled’ or someone nearby, or a medical health professional, can administer First Aid.

What is the Prognosis of Foreign Object Inhaled?

The prognosis is dependent on many factors; but, with timely help/intervention, it is usually good. 

How can Foreign Object Inhaled be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent ‘Foreign Object Inhaled’:

  • Avoid letting children play with small toys/toy-parts, in the absence of any constant adult supervision
  • Stay away from construction sites, or other places with heavy debris particulates that could be inhaled
  • Use a face mask in polluted areas
  • Learn to perform CPR and abdominal thrusts

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Call 911 (or your local emergency number), or seek medical help
  • Back blows or abdominal thrusts should be performed without delay, in cases of choking

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: Nov. 26, 2013
Last updated: March 5, 2018