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Ear Foreign Body


  • An ear foreign body is anything that gets stuck in your ear canal other than earwax. This may include food, toy pieces, beads, buttons, disk batteries, cotton swab, paper, or insects. Foreign bodies are usually trapped in the outer ear canal. The outer ear canal, or external auditory canal, is the tube from the opening of your ear to the eardrum. You may have pain or fullness in the ear, or trouble hearing if the ear canal is blocked. Blood or thick discharge (drainage) may come out from the affected ear. If the foreign body is an insect, you may feel movement or hear buzzing.
    Picture of a normal ear
  • Diagnosis of ear foreign body may include a detailed health history and careful checking of the ear. Removal of the foreign body from the ear is the main goal of treatment. This may be done using gentle flushing of the ear canal with warm water, suction, or instruments. Live insects are usually killed with a liquid before being removed. Surgery may be needed to remove a deep foreign body or treat ear damage. With treatment, the foreign body will be removed from the ear, and more serious problems can be prevented.



  • Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness. Make sure that the tip of the bottle does not touch your skin if you are using ear drops.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

What to do if you have a foreign body stuck in your ear:

  • Do not put anything in your ear to try to take the foreign body out. This may push the object deeper into the ear canal.
  • If you feel a live insect moving in your ear, you may place a few drops of mineral oil in your ear. This will help kill the bug and decrease discomfort. Do not drop oil in the ear canal if you have a known tear in your eardrum. Do not put your finger inside your ear.
  • Teach your child to tell an adult right away if he has symptoms of a foreign body in his ear.


  • You have a fever.
  • You have trouble hearing, or you hear ringing sounds.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, treatment, or care.


  • You feel dizzy.
  • You have discharge or blood coming out from your ear.
  • Your ear pain does not go away or gets worse.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Ear Foreign Body (Discharge Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.