Foreign Body Removal & Treatment

  • Category: Blog
  • Posted On:
Foreign Body Removal & Treatment

A foreign body is an object that enters the body and gets stuck. Many people think of children swallowing coins or small toys. A foreign body may also enter the ear canal and become stuck there. Foreign bodies can enter any orifice, the eyes, or cuts in the skin of children or adults. You can remove some minor foreign bodies on your own, such as a splinter that isn’t too deep.

There are some foreign bodies that can cause serious harm, or even death. Any foreign body that is not easy to remove requires medical treatment. You may risk causing further harm by attempting a foreign body removal without medical help. However, removing the foreign body without medical help can be dangerous or can cause further damage.

Emergency rooms in the U.S. treat about 60,000 children who swallowed something they should not have. From batteries, magnets, coins, stationery or Christmas ornaments, kids under five make up most cases. Most foreign objects that are swallowed by children eventually leave the body naturally, but electronic button batteries and small-rare-earth magnets pose a significant danger, including the risk of death.

Symptoms of a Foreign Body

The symptoms you experience from a foreign body will depend on the foreign body’s location. If you swallow a foreign body, you may not feel any symptoms. Sometimes, the object can become lodged and cause pain or a lump. If the object lodges in the throat, you may have trouble swallowing.

You may feel scratchy or grainy when a foreign body enters the eye. An eyelash or dust particle can irritate the sensitive eye but is usually simple to remove. Some foreign bodies can cause a stinging or burning sensation in the eye.

Foreign bodies can also enter through the skin. Tiny particles of dirt or grit can enter scratches and cuts. Items like thorns, glass and wood splinters, and rocks can be excruciating and cause the wound to feel more tender and swollen.

People sometimes get foreign bodies stuck in other orifices like the nostrils, ears, vagina, or rectum. You may feel pain or discomfort once a foreign body enters one of these orifices. Sharp foreign bodies could cause cuts to sensitive tissues or an eardrum rupture.

Removing a Foreign Body from the Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract

Foreign bodies in the intestine are usually inedible items. In rare cases, the foreign body can lodge in your intestines and cause a partial or complete blockage. Medical professionals may be able to use non-surgical methods to remove the blockage. Rarely a foreign body in the gastrointestinal tract can require surgery.

Removing a Foreign Body from the Eye

If you struggle to remove a foreign body from your eye, try to flush it with an eyewash or sterile saline with a cup. You can place the cup rim against the bone below your eye and pour the liquid into your eye to flush it.

Removing a Foreign Body from the Ear

You may be able to use tweezers to remove some objects from your ear. But it is difficult to see what you are doing, and you may risk further injury. A medical professional can safely remove a foreign body from the ear and look for damage.

Removing a Foreign Body from the Skin

You can often remove foreign bodies from the skin at home. Washing the wound in soap and water can remove smaller debris and dirt. Tweezers can help you grasp items like thorns or splinters. You may need medical help if the object is barbed and difficult to grab, which prevents you from drawing it out easily.

When to Seek Medical Help for Foreign Body Removal

If the foreign body is causing choking or difficulty swallowing, seek medical attention immediately. You may also need help extracting foreign bodies from the nose, ears, vagina, or rectum. Objects can go too far into these orifices for easy removal on your own. You should seek medical care if you feel pain due to a foreign body.

Get Prompt Medical Attention at OU Health ER & Urgent Care

At OU Health ER & Urgent Care, you'll find both ER and urgent care services under one roof. When you're not sure if you need emergency care or urgent care, you don't need to decide. Just walk into an OU Health ER & Urgent Care location near you for the appropriate level of care.

Our combined emergency room and urgent care facilities come fully equipped to handle everything, from allergies, colds, flu, sprains, cuts, and scrapes to chest pain, appendicitis, complex fractures, and more. An onsite laboratory, X-ray, ultrasound, and CT scanning ensure you receive a prompt, accurate diagnosis and the right level of care. Walk in any time for OU Health emergency (ER) services 24/7 or urgent care every day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.