Foreign Bodies


Foreign body in the eye.


A dust particle or a loose eyelash may enter the child’s eye and cause him considerable irritation and discomfort. The eyes may water a lot and the child may be reluctant to open them.


What to do



If you see something loose over the white part of the eye, you can try removing it. Do not try to do this if the foreign body is lying on the black part of the eye or if it’s firmly fixed to the eye.


Advise the child not to rub the eye.


Ask him to sit down in a chair facing a good light, lean back his head slightly and look up. Stand beside him, and while supporting his chin with one hand gently pull the lower lid down


If you can see the foreign particle on the eyelid or the white part of the eye, take it off with a moistened wisp of cotton of the corner of a clean handkerchief.


If you do not find it on the lower eyelid. This is a bit more difficult. Ask him to look down. Hold the upper the upper eyelid by the eyelashes with your thumb and finger. Then pull it slightly down and turn it over. If noticed over the eyelid or the white part of the eye, take off the foreign body as explained above.


If you do not succeed, ask him to put his eye under clean water in a bowl and ask him to blink. The particle might well float off.



Do not try any heroic steps to remove the object. If unsuccessful, take your child to the doctor. In any case, never try to remove an object. If unsuccessful, take your child to the doctor. In any case, never try to remove an object if it is embedded firmly in the eye, or if resting on the black part of the eye.


Foreign body in the nose:


Small children like to ‘explore’ and may push up a variety of objects into their noses. Parents may come to know only when they notice the child having difficulty in breathing or breathing noisily through the nose. His nose may become swollen. Sometimes, the child may have a smelly (infected) or bloodstained discharge from the nose as long as two to three days after the actual entry of the foreign body.


●     Do not attempt to remove the foreign body yourself.


●     Keep your child quiet; ask him to breathe through the mouth.


Take him to the nearest hospital casualty department.


Foreign body in the ear


Children may also sometimes push in a small bead other foreign body in your child’s ear. Occasionally an insect may fly or crawl into the ear and get trapped there.


●     Calm the child. Ask him not to get alarmed by the buzzing sensation, if it is an insect.


●     Ask your child to sit down. Let him tilt his head to one side so that the ear with the foreign body is facing upwards, towards you.


●     Gently flood the ear with mildly warm water so that the insect or foreign body floats out.


●     If this does not work take him to the hospital. Do not try any extreme measures such as removing it with a pointed implement.



Swallowed Foreign Body


As mentioned before, toddlers and young children often tend to put anything, which they can lay their hands on into their mouth. Sometimes small objects such as coins, buttons or pins get accidentally swallowed.


What to Do


Do not give your child anything to eat or drink. Do not try to make him bring up the swallowed object. What you need to do is to arrange a quick consultation with a doctor or preferably take him to hospital casualty as soon you can.


Inhaled Foreign Body.


Sometimes the foreign body taken by your child may accidentally slip into the respiratory passage instead of going into the food pipe stomach. The child may then the choke and need urgent management for choking. Sometimes he may have no immediate symptoms after inhaling the foreign body but may subsequently develop cough and other symptoms of lung disease. These occur due to late effects of blockage of a respiratory passage by the inhaled foreign body and superimposed infection.


What to Do


If you suspect that your child has swallowed or inhaled a foreign body, and even if he seems to be all right after a while, do take him to your doctor or a hospital for proper assessment. You should also watch him carefully over the next few days and weeks.




A foreign object, like a coin, button, pin etc., which is put by a toddler or a young child in his mouth, may suddenly slip into the back of his throat. This may either block the throat or cause acute contraction of muscles around it, leading to a very uncomfortable sense of choking. He may find it hard to speak and breathe. His skin may turn blue and he may look terrified, gasping for breath.


What to Do


Step 1


You must act immediately. If he is a baby or a small child, hold him firmly by his legs with one hand and turn him upside down. He will now be hanging with his feet up, with his head facing the ground. Now with your free hand slap his back firmly between his shoulder blades. This should release the inhaled object. If it does not, repeat this upto five times. To carry out the same procedure in an older child, he should be made to bend over the back of a settee or the arm of a chair so as to assume practically and upside down position. In case of a young child you should first sit in an armless chair. Make the child lie on his tummy across your thighs and to assume a head down feet up position. In either case, give the child upto five good thumps between his shoulder blades with moderate force.


If step 1 (slapping the child’s back between the shoulder blades with him upside down) does not succeed, carry out step 2 (abdominal thrust) in which sudden pressure is exerted on the child’s stomach to expel the foreign body.


Step 2


Make the older child stand. Now stand behind the child, put your arms around his body and interlock your hands below his rib cage. Sharply pull your locked hands up and into the child’s body. The resultant sudden increase in pressure inside the chest will make the foreign body stuck in the respiratory passage come out.


These maneuvers must be conducted quickly to save life. If breathing stops or the child becomes unconscious begin resuscitation without delay. The resuscitation procedure has been explained at the end of this chapter. Ask your relative or neighbour to dial 102 for an emergency ambulance.