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Merck Manual

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Objects in the Ear


Richard T. Miyamoto

, MD, MS, Indiana University School of Medicine

Last full review/revision Jun 2020| Content last modified Jun 2020
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Objects in the ear can be removed by flushing the ear canal with sterile water or saline or using suction, forceps, or other tools. If the foreign body cannot easily be removed, a referral to an ear, nose, and throat doctor is likely necessary. The foreign body must not be pushed further into the ear canal because doing so can cause severe damage. 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.

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