Foreign Bodies in Children: Warning Signs

In the ideal world all children are supervised when they play and all small objects are kept out of their reach at home, at childcare and everywhere the child chooses to explore. However, in the real world, that is very difficult, if not impossible to enforce.

Every parent should know these warning signs that tell you that your child has a foreign body and seek medical attention immediately:


  • Persistent one sided nose discharge – this is usually slightly bloody and yellow or green
  • A bad smell coming from the nose
  • Nasal pain


  • One sided ear discharge
  • Ear pain and swelling of the ear canal

Food pipe

  • Food refusal
  • Difficulty swallowing their usual diet – sometimes they are still able to drink fluids but cannot eat
  • Drooling
  • Regurgitation of food

Windpipe (This is usually more dramatic than at other sites, as you can imagine)

  • Sudden difficulty breathing
  • Child turns blue
  • While taking breaths in and out, the child makes a sound

Unless you are familiar with the object, part of it is sticking out and you can get a good grip on the object (that is rarely the case given the tiny nature of the most common foreign bodies), never try to remove the object. You may dislodge the foreign body deeper into the body, or cause damage to your child’s tissue as you are pulling the item out. Seek medical attention immediately.

(This article is Part 3 of a 4-part series about foreign bodies, contributed by my wife who sees people with Ear, Nose and Throat issues.


Part 1 – Foreign Bodies in Children: Why They Can Be Lethal

Part 2 – Foreign Bodies in Children: The Most Common Culprits and Why Button Batteries Are The Child’s Worst Enemy)


One thought on “Foreign Bodies in Children: Warning Signs

  1. Pingback: Foreign Bodies in Children: What To Do | doctoring.parenting

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s