Your child comes crying to you because there’s a random object up her nose. Here’s how to take charge.

By Tamekia Reece
A little girl picking her nose

When your child complains about a foreign object in her nose, you probably (1) freak out, and then (2) wonder what in the world she was thinking. Here's how to handle the sticky situation.

How to Tell What's Up There

Your child may not fess upright away. But you’ll likely notice some symptoms within a few days, including pain, a bloody nose, smelly discharge from one nostril, or bad breath. If you know or suspect it’s a button battery, take him to the emergency room immediately; a battery can erode the tissues of the nose and cause serious damage.

Why She Did That

The reason is good ol’ curiosity. “Young kids are playful and starting to learn more about their body. And because the nose is really just two holes on their head, they’ll often look for things to do with them, like putting toys, food, and other stuff inside,” says Kevin Carney, M.D., medical director of the Children’s Hospital Colorado Emergency Department in Aurora.

What to Do

If the object is visible to you, try to have your child blow it out. Hold the unaffected nostril closed with on finger and help him blow his nose to dislodge the item. Or give a “mother’s kiss”: While your child sits facing you, place your mouth over his, hold down the clear nostril and quickly blow into his mouth. This forces air through the nose, which can help push out the object. If it’s still stuck or you can’t see the object at all, contact your child’s pediatrician or take him to an urgent-care center.

What Not to Do

Your first instinct may be to reach for a pair of tweezers, but Dr. Carneys ays that could break the item into more pieces or push it farther into the nasal cavity. And forget nasal saline—this could also propel the object farther in or, if it’s food, cause it to expand.

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