Foreign Bodies In The Ear

Introduction

This is a common presentation in ENT emergency practice. Children are usually involved as they insert various objects into their ears while playing: including beads, plastic toys, seeds, etc
Live insects may also crawl into the ear in adults/children

Clinical features

  • Symptoms are often absent
  • Little pain (sometimes)
  • Sensation of blockage may be reported by older children
  • Object usually seen with good light in the ear canal

Differential diagnoses

  • Impacted wax
  • Otitis externa

Complications

  • Otitis externa
  • Perforation of tympanic membrane from attempts at removal

Treatment objectives

  • Remove object expeditiously without damage to ear structures or causing undue pain to patient

Non-drug treatment

  • Removal by ear syringing
  • Removal with appropriate hook, or  alligator forceps
  • Examination and removal under anaesthesia if difficult in the clinic

Prevention

  • Vigilant supervision of young children