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An adult would never try to see if a grape will fit in her ear.

Curious young children, however, think very differently than parents and adults. This curiosity sometimes causes kids to place small "foreign" objects in odd places like the nose, ears or throat.

When a small foreign object is swallowed, choking is a hazard. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, choking is a leading cause of death in children younger than 4 years of age.

How can parents prevent choking in young children?

  • Cut food into manageable bites
  • Never let children play or lie down with food
  • Pick up loose change around the house
  • Pick up small items (like buttons & magnets) around the house
  • Read warning labels on all toys
  • Learn first aid for choking

What are the symptoms that a foreign body is in my child's throat?

Foreign bodies in the throat pose an immediate choking threat and require immediate medical attention.

If you notice any of these symptoms, your child may be choking on a foreign body and should receive immediate medical attention:

  • Choking or gagging
  • Harsh coughing
  • Wheezing or whistling sound upon exhale
  • Inability to speak
  • Pain in throat or chest
  • Hoarseness in voice
  • Blueness around lips
  • Not breathing
  • Unconscious

What are the symptoms that a foreign body is in my child's nose?

Foreign bodies may occasionally find their way into your child's nose through a child's attempts to smell and inspect the object.

The most common symptom of a foreign body in the nose is nasal drainage. The drainage appears only on the side of the nose with the object and often has a bad odor.

In some cases, the child may also have a bloody nose. Treatment of a foreign body in the nasal passage involves prompt removal of the object by your child’s health care provider. Consult your child’s health care provider to determine whether sedation is necessary in order to completely eliminate the blockage and free the object.

What are the symptoms that a foreign body is in my child's ear?

While not as common, children may also push objects deep enough into the ear canal to cause health concerns.

Depending on the size and nature of the object, some foreign bodies may not pose any threat when lodged in the ear while others, like certain foods and small insects, can cause more serious symptoms like pain, redness, or drainage.

What type of objects should I be especially wary of?

Anything small may be an attraction to a small child. Here is a list of common objects that often find their way into places where they don't belong:

  • Food

  • Insects
  • Toys
  • Buttons
  • Crayons
  • Batteries
  • Coins
  • Tissue
  • Clay
  • Erasers
  • Seeds
  • Grapes
  • Hot Dogs
  • Pebbles
  • Nuts

Be vigilant!

It is important to keep a close watch on the quick little hands of children – especially during playtime and mealtime.

Always follow up with your child’s health care provider to ensure the necessary care and treatment is in place to guarantee your child's full recovery.

Ashley LeGrand-Rozovics, DO, MHA

Methodist Physicians Clinic - Hawthorne Court

Dr. LeGrand-Rozovics answers your questions about child health and parenting.  Becoming a physician was a life-long dream of Dr. LeGrand-Rozovics. As a child she was hospitalized with pneumonia. The compassionate care she received during that 2-week hospitalization sparked her interest in medicine.  Dr. LeGrand-Rosovics believes in treating her patients in the way she would want her family members to be treated. "When you have that perspective, you want to explain things dif ...

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