Foreign Body In The Ear

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Last Medical Review: April 5, 2020
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Elisabeth Vincent Hamelin

What’s the problem

Children easily introduce small objects into the ear, into their ear canals, such as pearls, pebbles, paper balls, wheat grains, etc .; in adults the foreign bodies most commonly found in the ears are parts of matches or muffled sticks, used in an attempt to relieve itching, or to remove earwax plugs. Foreign bodies are often represented by insects that have accidentally entered the ear.

How it manifests itself

The most common symptoms are:

  • sudden pain,
  • feeling of fullness in the ear,
  • annoying noises in the ear, especially ringing or rumbling,
  • secretions from the ear, especially in children.

What are the risks

The permanence of a foreign body in the ear can lead to infections.

What should be done

  • Generally it is necessary to have the foreign body removed by a doctor. Small metal or glass objects can be removed by irrigation, while this procedure can be counterproductive in the case of objects that swell in contact with water (e.g. grain of wheat, paper ball).
  • The use of forceps for removing objects is not recommended, especially by non-experts, as they could push the foreign body more deeply.
  • In the case of penetration of insects that are still alive, we recommend filling the ear canal with mineral oil (e.g. vaseline oil) which kills the insect and facilitates its removal.
  • Do not leave small objects within the reach of small children and teach them not to introduce objects into the ear.

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