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Foreign bodies

Infants and children while playing may insert objects either in the nose, external ear, or in the mouth, which may go down into the food pipe or get aspirated into the airways.

These foreign bodies may be

  • Vegetable - peanuts, gram seed, tamarind seed
  • Metallic - pellets, safety pins, coins, nails, glass
  • Marbles

Warning signs:

  1. Nasal foreign body – local pain, nasal blockade on that side and nasal discharge which is either blood stained and/or purulent.
  2. Ear foreign body – earache, blocked passage, one sided ear discharge.
  3. Pharyngeal foreign body – pain, difficulty in swallowing.
  4. Esophageal foreign body – acute discomfort, excessive salivation.
  5. Laryngeal foreign body – choking cough which becomes croupy, hoarseness/loss of voice, difficulty in breathing, blood in sputum and cyanosis (bluish tinge to skin). Laryngeal obstruction may prove fatal either due to the object itself or inflammatory reaction produced by the foreign body.
  6. Tracheobronchial foreign body – depending upon the size of the foreign body, it may get stuck in the trachea or get aspirated in the right bronchus. There is history of choking, gagging and coughing. If this is missed, a long period may pass without producing major symptoms except a mild cough. dyspnoea, hoarseness, cyanosis, blood in sputum, metallic taste. A partially obstructing foreign body permits the passage of air during inspiration and expiration, hence wheezing may be audible.

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