If you get something stuck in your ear, trying to remove it yourself may push the foreign body even deeper into your ear canal. Not only can objects, such as earplugs, small batteries, beads, and small toys get stuck inside the ear, but insects may also fly deep into the ear canal. Insects need to be removed promptly because they can cause soft tissue injury inside the ear if they bite or sting. Here are some treatment options you may be offered at an urgent care facility if you present with a foreign body in your ear.
When you arrive at the urgent care center, the healthcare provider will examine the inside of your ear with a special medical instrument known as an otoscope. Once the object is visualized, the provider may use tweezers or small forceps to gently remove it. The object may come out in pieces, such as soft objects like wax or silicone earplugs, or it may come out whole. If the healthcare provider is unable to remove the object easily, they may attempt to loosen it by flushing out the ear with liquid. If your ear hurts, the provider may apply a topical anesthetic to desensitize the area before attempting to remove the object.
If tweezer or forceps removal is unsuccessful, the urgent care provider may attempt to use a suction catheter to gently suction the object out of your ear. For this procedure, a plastic catheter is attached to a suction machine, and then the catheter is gently placed inside the ear, preferably on the object if it can be reached. Once the catheter is in place, the machine is turned to a low setting, and the suction may extract the foreign body.
The provider will only use a gentle setting because using strong suction may damage the eardrum. This method of foreign body removal is typically not painful; however, you may experience a pulling sensation inside your ear once the suction machine is turned on. If suctioning the ear does not result in removing the object, the staff may refer you to an ENT physician, otherwise known as an ear, nose, and throat doctor for further evaluation and treatment.
If you get something stuck in your ear and are unable to remove it, seek urgent care services as soon as possible. When objects are removed quickly and safely by a healthcare professional you are less likely to develop complications, such as eardrum damage and infection.
For more information, visit an urgent care clinic near you, such as 75th St Injury & Illness Center.