When a "Runny Nose" Is Really a Foreign Body Stuck Where It Shouldn't Be
Does your child put things up his nose? Here's a cautionary tale
This is the runny nose that made headlines. For six months, one of Khloe Russell's nostrils oozed thick, green, smelly gunk. The 5-year-old from Hemet, California, seemed to have a sinus infection, but trips to three different doctors and antibiotics didn't stop the flow.
What did: a plea from Khloe’s uncle to blow her nose. Although she'd been urged by her mom to do this throughout the ordeal, this time did the trick: Out came a disintegrating safety pin an inch and a half long.
Khloe admitted to trying to put the pin in her nose but didn't think she succeeded. That's what her mom, Katelyn Powell, told United Press International. “Being a kid [she] wanted to stick it up there to see how far it would go and thought she dropped it, not realizing it had lodged itself in her nose,” Powell explained.
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It happens all the time
Putting objects in their nose is something little kids can't resist. It's a common cause of emergency room visits, especially in kids under 6, according to KidsHealth. Children have been know to insert everything from small toys and food to crayon pieces, erasers, wads of paper and beads. It's just one of many ways they learn about their bodies.
Most objects won’t hurt a kid even if they get stuck. However, warns KidsHealth, “button cell batteries (such as those found in watches and some portable electronics) can cause chemical and electrical burns inside the nose, and magnets can cause pressure sores if they are pulling together across the septum (the area in between the nostrils).” If you know your child has shoved either of these up his nose, get medical help right away.
You also should take your child to the doctor if she shows any of these signs of having a foreign body in her nose, advises the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
- Trouble breathing through one nostril
- A sensation of having something in her nose, or irritation or pain
- A smelly or bloody discharge
- Crankiness, especially in babies
Don't blow it! Removing an object
If you know your little one has shoved something up her nose and you can see it, you can try to remove it by following these guidelines from the NIH and Mayo Clinic.
- Don’t try to pry out the object with a cotton swab or some other tool. You may poke the item further into the nostril.
- If the child is old enough to understand, tell her to breathe in and out through her mouth. If she breathes in sharply through her nose she may sniff the object in deeper.
- If you can see the object in your child’s nose and can grasp it with tweezers, it’s fine to simply pull it out that way. Do not try this method if you can't easily get a good grip.
- If you can’t see an object but know it’s there, try gently pressing on the clear nostril and have the child blow out.
Preventing a repeat performance
It may take only one experience for a child to understand her nose isn't a good place to store things, but it won't hurt to remind her that her nose is for breathing only. The NIH suggests some other ways to help a kid keep her nose clean as well:
- Cut food into appropriate sizes.
- If she's under age 3, do not give her things like whole grapes, nuts, popcorn or candy.
- Keep small objects out of reach.
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