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Objects in the Ear

By Richard T. Miyamoto, MD, MS, Arilla Spence DeVault Professor Emeritus and Past-Chairman, Department of Otolarynology - Head and Neck Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine

Objects in the ear can be removed by flushing the ear canal with sterile water or saline or using suction, forceps, or other tools. Doctors may remove an insect by putting an anesthetic or mineral oil in the ear, which kills the insect, stops pain, and makes removal easier. Younger, more frightened children may need to be sedated or to be given a general anesthetic for these procedures.

Sharp objects, such as pencils, can pierce (perforate) the eardrum (see Eardrum Perforation). Perforations require evaluation by an ear specialist, but most heal by themselves over time without loss of hearing.