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Foreign Bodies

Foreign Bodies

A foreign object in any part of the body can cause pain, infection, and other problems. Most commonly, foreign bodies are found in the ear, eye, nose or skin.

Ear

Foreign bodies in the ear can lead to hearing loss, pain, and infection. The important thing to remember is to NEVER stick anything in the ear in an attempt to remove an object. Doing so may push the foreign body deeper into the ear and may result in damage to the ear. If you can see the object and grab it with a pair of tweezers, remove it. Use gravity by having the person tilt their head toward the ear with the foreign body.

Many times, an insect will crawl into an ear seeking the warmth and confined space. If you know that an insect is in the ear, you may be able to remove it by warming some baby oil and pouring it into the ear. The oil will serve to drown the insect and may allow the insect to float out of the ear. Do NOT use this method if there is any drainage from the ear that might indicate a ruptured eardrum. You should not use this method in any child who has tubes in his ears for recurrent ear infections.

Whether or not these methods are successful in removing the foreign body from the ear, a licensed practitioner should check the affected ear as soon as possible.

Eye

Foreign bodies in the eye can lead to vision loss, pain and infection. Be sure your hands are clean before you start working with the eyes. Many times, it may be possible to remove the foreign object by flushing the eye with saline solution or clean water while holding your eyelid open.

If the object is embedded in the eyeball, do NOT remove it. Instead, cover the eye loosely with a gauze pad and get immediate medical attention. An object deeply embedded in the eyeball must be removed surgically to prevent further damage to the eye.

If you flush a foreign body from the eye but the victim continues to have pain or redness, or if the victim cannot see normally, medical attention is immediately required.

Nose

Foreign bodies in the nose can lead to pain and infection. The important thing to remember is to NEVER stick anything in the nose in an attempt to remove an object. Doing so may push the foreign body deeper into the nose and may result in damage to the structures of the nose. If you can see the object and grab it with a pair of tweezers, remove it.

Instruct the victim to breathe through his mouth until the foreign body is removed. Breathing through his nose may cause the object to enter the victim’s windpipe or lungs. Instead, have him blow his nose gently in an attempt to remove the object. If the object is not removed using these methods, seek medical help for professional removal.

Skin

Foreign bodies in the skin can lead to infection and pain. Before attempting to remove an object from the skin, make sure your hands are clean. If the object in the skin is wood, do NOT soak the extremity. Getting the wood wet will cause it to swell and fragment, making the removal more difficult. If enough of the foreign body is above the skin, you may be able to grasp it with tweezers and pull it out. After removal, gently squeeze the area around the wound to encourage bleeding to wash out any fragments that might be left behind. Apply some antibiotic ointment and cover the area if it is likely to get dirty. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider to determine if you should receive a tetanus shot.

Occasionally, the foreign body will be completely under the top layer of skin. If you feel comfortable using a sharp needle to remove the object, you must first clean the needle as well as possible using rubbing alcohol or soap and water. If you can see the point of entry for the object, use the needle to lift the skin above the object and move the point of the needle to lift the tip of the foreign body out above the level of the skin. Use the tweezers to grasp the object and pull it out. Cleanse the wound thoroughly, apply a topical antibiotic ointment, and cover the wound if it is likely to get dirty. Again, be sure to check on the status of your tetanus immunization.

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