First Aid: Tips to remove something that’s stuck in your child’s ear

18 April 2014

Adults realise very quickly if something is stuck in their ear – but small children aren’t that aware or good at identifying what’s bothering them. If your child’s hearing is suddenly impaired, this could be a sign that something is lodged in the ear canal.

A darker discharge or pain would accompany the hearing loss, while living insects can scratch and damage the ear drum, causing nausea.

Removing objects from your child’s ear:

  • Turn their head so that the affected ear faces downwards. Straighten the ear canal by pulling the ear lobe slightly upwards and away from the head. Let your child shake his head gently in this position.
  • Don’t use an ear bud or anything similar as you could force the object deeper into the ear.

How to remove a live insect from your child’s ear:

  • Pull the ear lobe upwards and back to straighten the ear canal. Shine a torch into the ear cavity. The insect should crawl out after a few minutes.
  • If that doesn’t work, put three to five lukewarm drops of mineral oil or baby oil in the ear canal. Make sure the oil is not too warm. The insect will suffocate and will wash out with the oil. Don’t use oil if you suspect the eardrum has burst (in this case, the ear will be painful and your child will have hearing loss). Don’t wash out the ear with water if you suspect that organic material, such as a seed, is stuck in the ear because water could make it swell.
  • Consult a doctor if you can’t remove the object after the first attempt or if there is bleeding or a discharge. Go to a doctor immediately if the object is a small CD battery or a magnet. The battery in a hearing aid, for example, can fall out and its dangerous chemicals could leak into the ear.

- Betina Louw

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