How to Care for Your Child with a Foreign Object in the Ear

This leaflet will provide you with information on how to care for your child with a foreign object stuck in his/her ear that has not been possible to remove in the Emergency Department

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Sometimes, young children put something in their ears, and it gets stuck. The emergency doctor will see the object (foreign body) in your child's ear using a special light; however, he/she may not be able to remove it.

In this case, your child needs to see an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist doctor, who will be able to remove it with special tools and a magnifier. If the ear looks infected, the ENT doctor will give antibiotics.

It is safe for your child to be cared for at home until the ENT doctor can remove the object.

The ENT team will contact you to have the object removed.

Carefully follow the ENT doctor's instructions about when your child should stop eating and drinking before the appointment.

Home care advice

  • Do not try to remove the object yourself (even if you can see it).
  • Do not clean the inside of the ear.
  • If your doctor advises giving medicine for pain, you can give  
    • Paracetamol (or any other brand) or Ibuprofen (or any other brand)
    • Follow the instruction on the medicine package for the correct dose for your child  
    • Do not give Aspirin to your child as this can cause a serious side effect

When should I seek medical advice?

Seek medical advice if your child:

  • Is taking pain medicines and still has pain
  • Has foul-smelling fluid draining from the ear
  • Gets a fever

Go to the Emergency Department if your child:

  • Has bleeding from the ear    
  • Put a button battery in their ear. Button cell batteries are dangerous and can cause chemical and electrical burns.