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 refusal
- Difficulty swallowing their usual diet – sometimes they are still able to drink fluids but cannot eat
- 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.