October 24, 2016

A marble lodged in the nose needs prompt attention. Here’s what to do when kids stick objects where they don’t belong.


Pediatricians will always be needed as long as children keep sticking things in places they don’t belong. Part of being a kid is exploration, and one of your child’s favorite places to explore is likely his or her own body.

The two most common places where children get foreign bodies are their noses and ears. When children are small, the risk of getting something stuck is the highest. As they get into school age, boys tend to have this problem more than girls.

Things I have removed from children’s noses and ears:

  • Barbie shoes
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Hair beads (my personal favorite)
  • Buttons
  • Legos
  • Rocks
  • Plastic end from an earbud
  • Marbles
  • Jelly beans, chewing gum and Halloween candy
  • Vegetables (maybe they thought they would get out of eating them?)
  • Erasers
  • Crayons
  • Insects (my least favorite thing to remove)

Usually when children stick something in their noses or ears, it’s not life-threatening, but prompt action is needed. Your pediatrician should handle removal.

My main exception to this would be button batteries that power calculators or hearing aids, which must must come out immediately. If any foreign body is not easily removed or can’t be seen, you may need to visit an after-hours clinic, the emergency room or an ear, nose and throat doctor (otolaryngologist). These foreign objects are often discovered during a routine exam, particularly in the ears.

Signs a foreign body in the nose are discharge from only one nostril that is foul-smelling or causing bad breath, or nose pain on one side. Signs of a foreign body in the ear are decreased hearing from one side or ear pain on one side. Or, buzzing in the ear, which happened when one of my patients had an insect crawl into it. Shudder.

If you’re ever concerned that your child has stuck something in his or her ear, call your pediatrician. It’s a common problem, but it’s easily treatable.

This post was written by Tobi Amosun, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician. She is a wife and mother of two who loves cooking, traveling and photography. She is fluent in Spanish and aspires that someday her house will look as fabulous as her Pinterest boards.

Vanderbilt’s Children’s After-Hours Clinics offer the convenience of a walk-in clinic with care provided by a board-certified pediatrician from Children’s Hospital. No appointment is necessary, but we recommend calling your pediatrician first. Learn more about services and find locations for Children’s Hospital After-Hours Clinics here.