Symptoms and Signs of Foreign Body (Object) in the Ear

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 11/12/2021

Doctor's Notes on Foreign Body (Object) in the Ear

A foreign body in the ear most often occurs in toddlers who have placed something small in the ear canal. It can also be caused when an insect flies or crawls into the ear. Foreign bodies in the ear are common. Most foreign bodies in the ear lodge in the ear canal and become stuck.

Symptoms of a foreign body in the ear include:

  • the sensation of fullness or having something stuck in the ear,
  • pain, and
  • a decrease in hearing on the affected side.

Associated symptoms can include:

If the object persists in the ear and is not removed, an infection may develop, producing:

  • more intense ear pain,
  • redness,
  • swelling, or
  • discharge from the ear.

What Is the Treatment for Foreign Body in the Ear?

A foreign body in the ear must generally be removed by a medical professional. There are several different techniques that can be used to remove foreign bodies from the ear, including:

  • forceps removal,
  • suction application, or
  • irrigation with water.

In some cases, solutions can be used to dissolve certain types of foreign objects that have become lodged in the ear.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.