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Objects in the Ear - Home Treatment

To remove an object from the ear:

  • Tilt the head to the side and shake it. 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.
  • Do not try to remove an object if the person will not hold still.
  • Do not try to remove an object if it is so far inside the ear that you can't see the tips of the tweezers.
  • Do not try to flush an object out with water.
  • When trying to remove an object from a child's ear:
    • Speak to the child in a calm, relaxed voice. This will help control the child's fear.
    • An object that is not causing symptoms does not have to be removed right away. If the child is upset, it may be best to let him or her calm down before trying to remove the object.

To remove a disc battery from the ear:

If the battery is partially out of the ear, you may be able to remove it with your fingers or blunt-nosed tweezers.

  • Do not use non-gripping instruments, such as bobby pins, cotton swabs, or matchsticks.
  • Use care not to push the battery farther into the ear.
  • If a child resists or is not able to hold still, do not attempt to remove the battery.
  • Do not use eardrops or sprays of any type. This can cause the battery to corrode more quickly.

If you can't remove the battery, call your doctor. If you are not able to reach your doctor immediately, go directly to the nearest hospital emergency department. Do not place eardrops or other solutions of any kind in the ear in an attempt to remove the battery. Eardrops can cause the battery to corrode quickly, causing severe damage to the ear canal.

To remove an insect from an ear:

Do not try to kill an insect that has flown or crawled inside the ear.

  • Instead, pull the ear up and back, and let the sun or a bright light shine inside the ear. Insects are attracted to light and may crawl out.
  • If the insect does not crawl out:
    • Lie the person down with the ear facing upward.
    • Fill the ear canal with warm (body temperature) mineral, olive, or baby oil. The insect may float out.

Do not use ear candles. They have no proven benefit in the removal of earwax or other objects in the ear and can cause serious injury.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • Pain develops or increases.
  • The object cannot be removed.
  • The ear, ear canal, or the skin around the ear becomes red or swollen.
  • Drainage from the ear develops.
  • You develop other symptoms, such as hearing loss, dizziness, or bleeding.
  • Your symptoms become more severe or frequent.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 10, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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