Foreign Objects In The Ear

What Is It?

A foreign object in the ear can be anything in the ear canal (the tube that leads from the eardrum to the outside) that normally would not be there. A person may put something into the ear on purpose (such as a cotton swab), or by accident (for example, a small earring). Children put many different small objects into their own or another child's ears. Sometimes an insect may crawl or fly into the ear. Whether it's the end of a cotton swab or a small toy, often what goes into the ear does not come out easily.

Symptoms

A foreign object in the ear canal usually feels strange or uncomfortable. Hearing in that ear may be affected. There may be pain if the object injures the ear canal or the eardrum, or causes an infection of the outer ear canal (otitis externa). There may be ringing in the ear and, sometimes, an ongoing dry cough. If an insect enters the ear canal, a person may hear buzzing or feel tickling sensations and the insect may sting or bite inside the ear canal.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will use a lighted magnifying lens called an otoscope to look inside the ear canal, see the object and also see whether you have an infection or a torn eardrum.

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