Foreign Body Removal - Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Jun 01, 2022

What Are Foreign Objects in the Body?

Foreign objects can be anything that doesn’t belong inside the body. Common foreign objects include coins, toys, batteries, safety pins, or jewelry pieces. They can be swallowed or inserted accidentally or intentionally and get lodged in different body parts.

A foreign object caught in an airway might lead to a deadly medical emergency. A foreign object may prevent one from breathing correctly. If you discover an item stuck in an airway, visit an emergency room near you for assistance.

How Does Foreign Object Get into the Body?

People accidentally swallow things like coins or small toys. Foreign objects can also enter the body through cuts or open wounds. In some cases, people may intentionally place foreign objects on their bodies (such as piercings or tattoos).

Children’s natural curiosity may lead them to put tiny things in their noses or ears. Toddlers frequently put objects in their mouths, which can cause foreign items to become stuck in a breathing passageway.

An object may become lodged in the body inadvertently. For example, someone might unintentionally swallow an item such as a toothpick, nail, or a coin.

Object-eating disorders can also lead to swallowing foreign objects: Pica, compulsive eating of non-food items with no nutritional value. Pica is a behavioral illness characterized by the compulsion to eat non-nutritional substances. It’s usually a short-term problem that most often affects children and pregnant women.

How Can You Tell You Have A Foreign Object In the Body?

The most common symptom of having a foreign object in your body is pain. If the object is close to the surface of your skin, you may be able to feel it with your fingers. Other symptoms can include bleeding, infection, swelling, and redness.

You may also experience breathing problems if an object is stuck in the airways. Chocking, coughing, and wheezing are other symptoms that may occur. It is crucial to visit an ER near you for assistance if you notice these symptoms.

How Are Stuck Foreign Objects Diagnosed?

Visit an emergency care doctor if you notice your child has swallowed an object. He will do a comprehensive assessment and inquire about the object and how long it has been there. Foreign bodies are usually found during a physical exam. Your doctor may order an x-ray to check where the object is and to rule out other problems.

How are Foreign Objects Removed from the Body?

Sometimes, the small objects can pass through the body without treatment. However, if they do not come out, you need to visit an emergency clinic for treatment because larger objects may need to be removed with surgery. The doctor can use sterile tweezers to remove foreign objects close to your surface skin. However, if the objects are in your body, you will most likely need to be removed with surgery.

Your doctor will give you general anesthesia before performing the surgery. He will make a small incision and remove the object. In some cases, the object may need to be removed in pieces.

Foreign body removal surgery is generally safe. However, there is a risk of infection and bleeding, as with any surgery. You will likely experience some pain and swelling after the surgery.

Your doctor may recommend medication to ease the discomfort. He will also give you specific instructions on caring for your incision site for a successful recovery.

Other treatments that can be used include:

  • A suction device or machine to remove an object stuck in the nose or ear
  • Magnets can also be used to remove metal-like objects in the body.

Bottom Line

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to prevent kids from putting foreign objects in their mouths. Keeping small items out of children’s reach is the most effective method for preventing youngsters from acquiring foreign bodies inside their bodies.

If they accidentally swallow objects like batteries, visit Express ER’s 24-hour emergency room for assistance.