How to Remove Foreign Bodies From the Ears

A foreign body in the ear can cause pain and damage to the eardrum. Objects commonly become lodged in the ear when a young child sticks something into his ear or when an insect enters the ear canal. Some foreign bodies in the ear can be removed at home, but a doctor should remove objects stuck deep in the ear.

  1. Removing an Object

    • 1

      Look in the ear. If the object is sticking out and appears easy to remove, take it out with your fingers or tweezers (Reference 1).

    • 2

      Use gravity to your advantage if the object is not clearly visible. Have the person tilt his head to the side and gently shake it to see if the object falls out (References 1 and 2).

    • 3

      Seek medical attention if the object does not come out, or if you are not completely sure that the entire object was removed (Reference 1).

    Removing an Insect

    • 1

      Do not place fingers or other objects into the ear; this may cause the insect to sting, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (Reference 1).

    • 2

      Tilt the head so that the ear is facing up, and wait to see if the insect comes out (Reference 1).

    • 3

      Use oil to suffocate the insect if it does not come out on its own. Pour warm mineral oil, olive oil or baby oil into the ear. As you pour the oil, straighten the ear canal by pulling the earlobe back and up for an adult, or back and down for a child, according to the Mayo Clinic (Reference 2). Tilt the head to drain the oil onto a washcloth. If the insect comes out, see your doctor to make sure there are no parts left in the ear (Reference 1).

    • 4

      Seek medical attention if you cannot get the insect out of the ear (Reference 1).

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not place oil in the ear if you suspect a ruptured eardrum. Symptoms may include pain, bleeding and discharge (Reference 2).
  • Never reach inside the ear canal with tweezers, cotton swabs or other objects. Sticking objects into the ear canal can push the foreign body deeper into to ear or rupture the eardrum (Reference 1).
  • Do not use oil to remove anything other than an insect. Other objects may swell and be more difficult to remove after oil is poured into the ear (Reference 1).
  • If pain, discharge, hearing loss or other ear symptoms continue after the object is removed, seek medical attention (Reference 2).
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