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Foreign Objects In The Body

Basically, any object that is in the body but doesn’t belong there can be considered a FOREIGN BODY or foreign object. Most foreign bodies become lodged inside the body accidentally, although some, like piercings, are intentional.


In most cases, foreign objects are a nuisance and the biggest risk is infection. But with the case of children, foreign objects can pose life-threatening risks.  Children often swallow or accidentally insert small objects such as toys or food which can become lodged causing difficulty breathing or obstructions to their airways or stomachs.


Even adults can accidentally choke on large or poorly chewed food causing obstructions that impair breathing. Any signs of choking or difficulty breathing whether in a child or adult should be dealt with as an EMERGENCY.


Besides accidental choking, other foreign bodies can include objects that become stuck in the following body cavities:

  • Nose

  • Ears

  • Under the skin

  • Rectum


Any type of sharp object can penetrate the skin and become a foreign body. Splinters are the best and most common example. Often, people will get a splinter under the skin and not realize it (or forget) until they experience other symptoms.

These symptoms can include:

  • Pain

  • Drainage

  • Redness

  • Swelling



Home Care


For minor foreign bodies located in areas that do not affect the eyes, ears, nose, airways or stomach, - or do not appear to affect any movement or cause extreme pain or discomfort; one option is to try using tweezers to grasp and remove the object. Often, soaking the area will soften the skin / or the object (depending on the material) to make it easier to retrieve.



Seeking Further Care


If the foreign body cannot be easily removed, then a medical professional may be needed to assist in the removal. Treatment at the local urgent care or emergency room may include:


  • Suction

  • Magnets (if the object is metal)

  • Bronchoscopy – for objects lodged in the airway

  • Endoscopy – for objects lodged in the digestive or GI tract

  • Minor surgery


Don’t be surprised if an X-ray is performed to establish where the foreign object is located in the body – if that’s not easily apparent.




Since children are the most likely to suffer from foreign objects or choking, you can prevent this from occurring by limiting the most-common objects that become lodged.

  • Small toys or toy parts

  • Small pieces of food

  • Buttons

  • Small batteries

  • Seeds

  • Beads

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