Cotton, paper, pebbles, beads, seeds, nuts, insects, button batteries, and beans are just a few of the many objects children, intellectually impaired people, and psychiatric patients put in their nose. People may also place similar foreign objects into their ears (see Outer Ear Disorders: Ear Blockages).
Objects stuck up the nose are of particular concern because they can block the airway, cause infection, and be difficult to remove. Children are often scared to admit they put an object in their nose. Many parents become aware of the problem only when a child's nose bleeds persistently, is runny, or has a foul-smelling discharge or when the child has difficulty breathing on only one side of the nose.
Doctors use a topical anesthetic and attempt to remove the object using suction or forceps. If these measures do not work, doctors may need to sedate children or give them a general anesthetic to remove the object.
Last full review/revision October 2012 by Marvin P. Fried, MD