First Time User? Enroll now.
COVID-19: Vaccine information, testing, treatment, and additional resources
Home > Health Library > Objects in the Ear
Objects (foreign bodies) inserted into the ear usually do not cause much damage. But objects that are inserted with force can damage the ear canal or pierce the eardrum.
Problems with objects in the ear most often occur in children younger than age 5 and in people who have problems with thinking and reasoning, such as an intellectual disability or Alzheimer's disease.
Some objects in the ear cause more problems than others.
The longer an object is left in the ear, the harder it is to remove. Also, the longer an object stays in the ear, the higher the chances of infection. A visit to a doctor is needed if an object stays in the ear longer than 24 hours.
An urgent visit to a doctor is needed anytime a disc battery is placed in the ear or if symptoms of injury develop after an object has been put in the ear. Symptoms of injury include sudden hearing loss, moderate to severe pain, dizziness, or bleeding.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Disc batteries are small, round batteries used in toys, cameras, watches, and other devices. Because of the chemicals they can release, they can cause serious problems if they are swallowed or get stuck in an ear or the nose. Small magnets used in household items and objects that contain a lot of lead (such as bullets, buckshot, fishing weights and sinkers, and some toys) also can cause problems if swallowed.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in adults are:
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in children are:
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Follow these tips to remove an object from the ear.
Gently pulling the ear up and back may straighten the ear canal and help dislodge the object.
If the object is visible and the person is calm and cooperative, carefully try to remove the object with blunt-ended tweezers. Do not use non-gripping instruments, such as bobby pins, cotton swabs, or matchsticks. Use care not to push the object farther into the ear.
When trying to remove an object from a child's ear, speak to the child in a calm, relaxed voice. This will help calm the child's fear. An object that is not causing symptoms doesn't have to be removed right away. If the child is upset, it may be best to let them calm down before you try to remove the object.
Don't use ear candles. There is no proof that they help to remove earwax or other objects in the ear, and they can cause serious injury.
If the battery is partially out of the ear, you may be able to remove it with your fingers or blunt-nosed tweezers. When trying to remove a disc battery from the ear, keep these things in mind.
They can cause the battery to corrode more quickly and cause severe damage to the ear canal.
If you can't remove the battery, call your doctor. If you are not able to reach your doctor right away, go directly to the nearest hospital emergency department.
Don't try to kill an insect that has flown or crawled inside the ear. Follow these tips to remove an insect from the ear.
Insects are attracted to light and may crawl out.
Call a doctor if any of the following occur during self-care at home:
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared for your appointment.
Current as of:
March 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: March 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.