Help! My child stuck ___ up his nose!
If you’ve ever said these words, you know how awful it can be to know your little one has something stuck up there but cannot blow it out. The longer it has been there, the more chance there will be secondary complications, such as irritation to the nasal mucosa (“skin” in the nose) or infection.
How do you know there’s a problem?
Sometimes the first sign of something in the nose is a foul smell to their breath and thick yellow or green discharge from only one side of the nose. This is due to infection from the body’s rejection of the object. (Usually a cold or allergies affects both nostrils, right?) These kids should be seen at the doctor’s office for further evaluation and treatment.
Sometimes you are lucky enough to find out about the foreign object soon after it is placed up the nose, before complications arise. But even then, how do you get it out?
Getting it out
Some parents feel most comfortable with a medical professional removing it. That’s fine. Call your doctor’s office and they’ll be happy to help.
Regardless of where you decide to get the thing out: keep calm! Try to keep your child calm because if they are crying they can suck the object in further. A common problem is parents get upset, and this just gets the child upset. Even if you’re going crazy on the inside, maintain your calm on the outside.
To actually get something out of the nose, sometimes doctors need to use their special equipment to get it out. But there’s a really good trick I learned from an ER doc friend long ago that can even work at home: blow it out for them.
What can you do at home?
It’s called the “Mother’s Kiss” but dads can give it a try too.
This is something you can try at home or in your doctor’s office if you’re nervous or unsure how to do it. Never try to reach up there with something to pull it out… you might push it in higher and get it stuck in a turbinate– see the picture below.
Kids need help
The basic problem is kids who put things up their nose don’t usually have the ability to blow hard enough to get it out. If you blow into their mouth you can often force the object out. (Think of CPR, only you don’t block the nose to force the air into the lungs- that would be bad!)
It’s important to not block the exit from the other nostril and not to do this if something is up both nostrils.
There are those kids…
We don’t want to force the air into the lungs and cause problems there!
In my office we often put Neo-Synephrine in the nose to shrink the nasal passageways to make it easier for the object to be blown out, especially important if the object has been there awhile and there is mucosal swelling.
And then the kiss…
Blow into the mouth with a quick puff of air. This forces air up the back of the throat into the nose. Don’t block either nostril as you do this. The blow can be repeated several times if not successful at first. The parent usually ends up with a cheek full of mucus along with the object!
Of course, if this fails, you will need to bring your kiddo in to be evaluated. Sometimes with fancy tools we can remove the object. If it is deep into the nose or into the turbinates, an Ear Nose and Throat specialist might be required.
Don’t let there be a next time…
As always, prevention is the best cure. Keep small things away from kids and when they are working with craft beads, eating corn, playing on a gravel road, or otherwise in the vicinity of small objects, keep an eye on them!