Most patients who have problems with foreign bodies in the ear, nose and throat are children, who are intellectually challenged. Mentally ill adults are also at increased risk. Often, doctors are able to treat the problem successfully. The successful removal of objects depends on the skill of the doctor and cooperation from the patient. The most common foreign bodies found in the ear include beads, tiny plastic toys, pebbles, and popcorn kernels. Insects are more common in patients older than 10 years. About 30 percent of patients require general anesthesia to facilitate removal of these objects. There are a lot of techniques to remove these objects from the ear including water irrigation, forceps removal), cerumen loops, right-angle ball hooks, and suction catheters. Live insects can be killed rapidly by instilling alcohol, 2% lidocaine (Xylocaine), or mineral oil into the ear canal. Common nasal foreign bodies include beads, buttons, toy parts, pebbles and button batteries. Techniques include removal with direct visualization using forceps, curved hooks, cerumen loops, or suction catheters. The most common foreign bodies that get lodged in the throat are pieces of plastic, metal pins, seeds, nuts, bones, coins, and dental appliances. The decision to pursue surgical intervention should be based on the patient's history and a physical examination that suggests the presence of a foreign body rather than based on radiography alone.
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