Foreign matter in the nose


A foreign body in the nose is an object that is in the nasal passages or the paranasal sinuses, but actually doesn't belong there. Foreign objects in the nose are often found in young children who stick coins or pearls up their noses while playing.

But they can also occur in adults. If they are discovered and removed quickly, foreign objects in the nose are relatively safe.

Foreign bodies that have not been recognized for a long time can lead to chronic inflammation through permanent irritation of the mucous membranes or can get further into the paranasal sinuses and cause serious complications there.

What should I do if I have a foreign object in my nose?

A foreign body in the nose is usually not an acute emergency that involves the risk of respiratory or circulatory arrest.

If you have a strange feeling in your nose and suspect a foreign body as the cause, you should first ask yourself whether there is a possible cause or whether you can remember an accident in which the foreign body could have got into the nose.

In addition, one should carefully look whether the foreign body is visible from the outside. If this is the case, you can first try to remove the foreign body yourself with fine tweezers.

In some cases, repeated heavy sneezing can help remove the foreign body quickly on its own. If the foreign body lies deeper in the nasal passages or cannot be mobilized, a doctor should always be consulted. This can check whether a foreign body is really the cause of the discomfort, or whether something else is behind it.

In addition, the doctor can also identify possible accompanying injuries and treat them if necessary. In the case of deep-seated foreign bodies, a nasoscopy with the help of a tube with a small camera is necessary. Through this examination, the foreign body can be precisely localized and then removed under sight with the aid of pliers that are pushed forward through a working channel on the hose.

Foreign bodies in the sinuses

If a foreign body gets through the nasal passages into the paranasal sinuses, it is no longer so easy to remove.

In this case, there is also the great risk that it will not be perceived as a foreign body, but rather confused with a flu-like infection (cold), which leads to heavy sneezing, runny nose and secretion flow.

If these foreign bodies remain in the paranasal sinuses for a long time, the permanent irritation can cause inflammatory changes, which in the further course can be accompanied by serious infections.

On the one hand, these infections can lead to changes in the bone structure and, on the other hand, they can spread to the structures of the eyes or the brain and are associated with blood poisoning or a localized inflammation of the soft tissue. The foreign bodies in the paranasal sinuses therefore often require surgical removal.

Foreign body in the child's nose

Foreign bodies in the nose occur much more frequently in children than in adults. The reason for this is the small children's great curiosity and enthusiasm for exploration.

In the course of their growth and development, children must carefully examine and explore their environment and various objects. While playing, they like to stick small objects such as peas, coins, marbles or even pearls into their nostrils.

In many cases, the foreign object triggers a strange feeling in the nose, so that the children get frightened, breathe deeply and thereby convey the foreign body further into the nose. If the process is observed by the parents and the foreign body has not yet disappeared too far into the nose, one should try to remove it quickly. If this does not succeed, a doctor should always be consulted. It is important to be particularly quick with small button batteries, as the toxic battery acid can escape and cause serious damage to the nose.

Is your child breathing hard? - Then read the following article: Difficulty breathing in children

Concomitant symptoms

A foreign body in the nose can be associated with a variety of symptoms. Many patients report a strange, unfamiliar feeling in the nose. On the one hand, the foreign body can rub and pinch the mucous membranes and, on the other hand, it can also cause small injuries to the mucous membrane, which are accompanied by nosebleeds.

Sharp foreign objects in particular can lead to injuries but also cause unpleasant pain. In addition, large foreign bodies can lead to one-sided obstruction of nasal breathing and thereby significantly impair breathing.

Are you breathing badly? - Then read our article on that Shortness of breath

Overall, however, a foreign body in the nose is not an acute emergency leading to possible respiratory or circulatory arrest. Patients often have to sneeze frequently. This is the body's own protective function.

The penetrating foreign body is recognized through the hairs of the nose and the body tries to get rid of it again through the sneeze reflex. In addition, the patients often complain of a new clear secretion that runs out of the nose. With foreign bodies that have been in the nose for a long time, the constant irritation of the mucous membranes can cause an inflammatory reaction.

Would you like to learn more about nasal mucosal inflammation? - Then read our article on that Inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane

In this case, the secretion can appear much more viscous and smell bad. In particularly bad cases, the infection can spread further and lead to general symptoms such as fever and fatigue, but it can also have a destructive effect on the cartilage and bone structure in the nose.

Do you have pain in your nasal bone? - Then the following article might interest you: Pain in and around the nasal bone


Foreign bodies can get into the nose relatively quickly and in a wide variety of ways. Most often, foreign objects are found in the nose of young children.

As part of growth and development, they are particularly curious and like to hide small objects, such as nuts, coins or pearls in their noses or other body orifices.

However, a foreign body can also get into the nose in the course of an accident such as a fall. These can be small stones, for example. But even if the nose is subjected to external force, small particles can get into the nose or the nasal cartilage splintered and perceived as a foreign body.

In addition, it sometimes happens that insects penetrate the inside of the nose on their own and hide there. In some cases, the feeling of a foreign body arises even though there is none in the nose. The most common cause of this is a cold or a flu-like infection, which is accompanied by strong secretion in the nose.


In order to diagnose a foreign body in the nose, the attending physician should first ask about the existing symptoms and have the patient describe in detail how it came about and when the symptoms first appeared.

Symptoms such as itching or an annoying, scratchy feeling in the nose, frequent sneezing or new runny nose can indicate a foreign body in the nose even without a suitable history.

Especially with small children, where you don't know whether they have stuck something up their nose, you should always think of a foreign body. The following physical exam should carefully inspect the nose. Foreign bodies in the nostrils or at the level of the nasal septum are usually easy to see when inspected with pliers. If a deeper foreign body is suspected, a nasoscopy with the help of an endoscope is necessary.