Vacuum removal of object stuck in child's nose

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My kids seem to have this issue with sticking things in their noses. It's kind of scary at first, but it's not life-threatening. Here are some common methods used for removing an object stuck in the nose:
  • Plug the opposite nostril, close mouth, and blow out the nostril that has the foreign object in it
  • Induce a sneeze to more forcefully blow it out (with pepper or some other method that works)
  • Delicately grab the object with tweezers (but don't make things worse by shoving it in further)
Unfortunately, if your child jams something way up into his nose or just won't sit still enough, these methods might not work. You may need to go to a doctor, and possibly to an ear, nose and throat specialist. Smaller kids can be physically restrained well enough so the doctor can work, but often bigger kids cannot. At worst, if your child can't remain still enough he may need to be sedated so the doctor can get in there with his or her tools to get whatever it is, out.

Recently, our two year-old stuck a Lego man's arm into his nose. We tried all the regular methods as best we could (with a squirmy, crying child), with no luck. I decided to try something new and perhaps save a lot of trauma, time, and money. I got out the shop vacuum, and with a quick nozzle modification, we sucked that Lego man's arm out of my kid's nose lickety-split!

Now, be sure to read ALL the steps before you condemn me as a terrible, irresponsible parent.... and if you ever try something like this... blah, blah, blah, use common sense, blah, blah, blah.

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Step 1: Get the vacuum

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My shop vacuum was handy, so that's what I used.

Step 2: Modify the nozzle at the end of the hose

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I taped the tube section of a Bic-style pen into the nozzle opening, making sure to tape it well enough to seal up the end of the nozzle so all the suction was focused at the tip of the pen.
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Yomiko5 years ago
I find it interesting that so many people freak out over the idea of suction being used, but guess what the ER uses... suction!
My daughter (about 5 years old at the time) squished down a foam bead and shoved it up her nose. I tried making her blow, tweezers, pushing down on her nostril, nothing worked (I didn't know about the plug-and-blow method!). Children's ER tried the same things, had one person pushing it down, having her blow AND suction to finally get it out! The resident helping asked her why she shoved it up her nose. She looked at him and with a completely serious face, responded "because I tried to put it in my ear but it wouldn't fit!"
seamster (author)  Yomiko5 years ago
My wife and I both laughed out loud when we read your daughter's response. That's pretty funny stuff.

I'm certain that most people who complain about stuff like this don't have real children. (They most likely have chihuahuas in little sweaters that they carry around in giant purses.)
Brosewog25 days ago

Just used my Miele vacuum with a straw taped to it to suck a ball of tape out of my sons nose and it worked like a charm! He was so uncomfortable and now he is so happy that we get it out. We were perplexed what to do until I found your post. Thank you! So glad we didn't have to go to the ER.

ekiessling1 month ago
You have the most beautiful child I have ever seen. Beautiful colouring. ? Some of the comments on your post are silly. You guys did right with the hose. These days going to the ER could bring you in contact with deadly viruses. Let common sense rule.
cdstudioNH6 months ago

I did it! And I entered it into the Remix contest, naturally. : D

cdstudioNH6 months ago

This is one of my faves. I feel a remix coming on....

OMG Parents don't do this! It sucked all the lungs and guts out of my kid... just kidding, it worked great. Thanks! I opted to use a straw with the flexible end. I think it is funny those people who think this is extremely dangerous... is that what they think is going to happen... your going to collapse a lung or something? Please remember the kids also have a mouth and other nostril... air will be sucked from those places not the lungs for crying out loud. For those of you think you are putting high powered suction in delicate places, here is a little law of physics... the smaller passage way acts as an inhibitor to the amount of air going through the passage way, hence limiting the force of the suction. In other words it is just barely the right amount of suction to do the job. If you have an air tight vacuum then it is possible to create higher velocity suctions, but clearly that would not be the best idea. I found using the straw is a great idea because it is extra flexible and should the air flow increase too much the straw would collapse on itself and it made it easier to navigate.

seamster (author)  jeffery.m.silva6 months ago
Nice, thank you for the thoughtful comment.

At first glance I was thinking "oh great, another one of these!" I was pleasantly surprised as I continued reading. Glad it worked well for you! I love the straw idea, I'll do that if we ever have to employ this method again.
henryd1068 months ago
Hey, seamster! We made this before we even saw your instrucable, which is amazing by the way, except we used it to clean that annoying dust stuff from a puzzle! Tip for puzzlers, just place the tiny nozzle on top of your puzzle, no pieces lost!
Awsome!! My type of dad.
sonyadaily1 year ago

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! You saved us a trip to the Doctor and a lot of worry. My son stuck a piece of foam cushioning into his nose. It was black and we couldn't even figure out if the event had happened or not.We tried pepper & blowing, but landed up sleeping on it coz I was pretty sure it was not there. After he he woke in the night with the definitely blocked right nostril we spent a sleepless night ans I tried this first thing in the morning before taking him to the doctor. Once I demonstrated it on my own nose, he sat quietly and let me try it on him. 5 min later I see a ball of snot with this round black thing popping out!! I'm filing this under worked and must know for parents. Hopefully I won't have to use this again. Thanks a bunch!

seamster (author)  sonyadaily1 year ago

Awesome! I'm glad it worked for you and your son is okay.

parisusa1 year ago
Great idea...I don't believe it's dangerous...a vacuum won't suck the brains out of someone! For centuries+ humans lived without Emergency Rooms & hundreds of dollars in insurance co-payments. I brought my son to the ER for a broken piece of toy cheese stuck in his ear! Wish I'd seen this first!
aacreech2 years ago
I am so grateful for you. My niece had a small foam ball from a bean bag chair. At first she came in to the room and thought she had a buggy. So her dad tried to remove it, sure enough there was one in her nose but it wasn't what was bothering her. So when she kept crying like it was bothering her my sister took her to the bathroom to get a closer look. And you could see the ball. So immediately my sister wanted to jump up and start getting ready to go to the ER. But first she wanted to calm my niece, because it wasn't blocking anything she just went off our panic and the fact that something was in her nose and she couldn't get it out. So while she was being calmed I Googled a question. I saw your answer and I told my sister we should try this. So we did just what you said and the ball came right out. I am glad that you chose to share your your story because my niece is happy and items are free from her nose (for now anyway) and we didn't have to go the hospital. Thank you so much!!!
seamster (author)  aacreech2 years ago
I'm glad it worked for you!
Reivenne2 years ago
...This is just plain dangerous. I don't care that it "worked for you" or you "tried it up against your own nose"... You're putting a high suction device near your child's extremely delicate nasal cavity and eyes. THINK, PEOPLE.
seamster (author)  Reivenne2 years ago
You don't have any kids, do you?
twilight212 years ago
my Lil sis got a bead stuck in her nose and  the way i got it out is by pressing on her nose and it poped out
parentagain3 years ago
11 YR put air-soft bb up nose. Tried to get it out with Q-tip and pushed it up higher. Tried to blow through the one nostrial, air would go through but bb would not budge. I read this column and tried it by getting a large diameter flexable straw fitted to the shop vac. Tested on me first. Had 11YR plug other nostrial and blow hard while held straw to just inside opening of bb nostrial..
Third hard blow and thump, we heard it go through the straw; it came out. Saved me a $100 co pay and spending all night at the ER.
I was lucky -- this as last resort before the ER.
i'm from England and find the idea of it saving you money odd (NHS FTW)
seamster (author)  parentagain3 years ago
I'm glad it worked for you!
once when i was a baby i jammed a bead up my nose, my parents got it out, as the doctor recommended, by closing the other nostril and blowing through my mouth.
Yep, that works sometimes.
My almost 3 year old son got a button stuck up his nose this evening - beyond sight and the reach of tweezers - and I thought of the same technique without any research on the issue. I grabbed the vacuum and tested it on my own nose and without modifications, put it to his nose. He had his mouth open and I gently and sporadically blocked his other nostril. There was enough air-flow/suction with the wide opening of the nozzle that it was not uncomfortable for him - his open mouth probably helped as well. His eyes were watering, but he was smiling and enjoying the sensation of the air being sucked out his nose! I remained calm which reassured him all was fine, and the button suddenly appeared at the opening of his nose. I gently pinched his nostril closed and the button was squeezed out. I would try it again to avoid the trauma of a hospital visit.
seamster (author)  WithLittleBrain2 years ago
Nice work, glad to know it came out without too much trouble. This post has gotten some heat from a few people, but I'm pretty sure none of those commenters had kids or had ever received a crazy hospital bill...

Thanks for the comment!
Wow! I will say this only once... THIS IS DANGEROUS!!! DON'T EVER TRY THIS! EVER!! Your nose cavity is super fragile!! You can hurt your child very hard with this!!! I REPEAT!! DON'T TRY THIS!!!
seamster (author)  pressiveinst2 years ago
Too late!
pfallon3 years ago
i just tried this - worked a treat - took 2 goes the booglie eye (the offending object) moved a little on its own so it came out with ease the second time.

obviously use the vacuum on low setting and try on parent first..
seamster (author)  pfallon3 years ago
Very good! I'm happy it worked for you, and saved a trip to the doctor.
jcastro143 years ago
AS A LAST RESORT!!! An Er visit, and two trip to the ear, nose and throat specialist!!!! This might have just saved us a trip to the dang pediatric surgery unit! I am keeping my fingers crossed while we create our nozzle! I'll let you know!
seamster (author)  jcastro143 years ago
Woa now, wait a minute...

Are you saying you ALREADY went to multiple doctors, and they didn't solve your problem? If that's the case, please don't try this. This will only work on a loosely stuck item, close to the nostril opening. For anything more serious, please just go back to the doctor.
wth??? haha YUCKIE PANTS!!!!!
ellaclay3 years ago
I wish I had known this while on vacation in New Orleans, my daughter stuck a broken hair clip piece up her nose and I franticly rushed her to the emergency room only to find out that it fell out before we left the hotel room. I will remember this for when my next kid does it. Genius!
I love this idea! I much rather use your method then take my child to the doctors. I just can't bare watching my child suffer more pain at the ER again while they run "test" to make sure "nothing else is wrong". Lesson Learned.. Listen to Mommy Instincts.
seamster (author)  popoamanda064 years ago
Thanks! This won't work in all situations of course, but in simple cases like the one I had with my kid, it can be a useful trick. ...And that's right, listen to those mommy instincts!
shepnstein4 years ago
I found an easy way to induce a sneeze is to pluck a nose hair out with a tweezers.
H1T4TCH14 years ago
My dad putted the vacuum cleaner on my sisters nose without any other mods, only a pen on the end of the suction thing ;) xD
weiblen.c4 years ago
Thanks for sharing the Instructable!

Parents can choose to set an example, to teach their kids to be self-sufficient and handle life's little problems with ingenuity and cautious confidence, like you are doing.

Or, they can teach their kids to be dependent on others and to go haring off to the hospital in EMERGENCY mode for every little thing that happens to them in the course of a normal childhood.

It's amazing how many kids cram things up their nose.  Reasons?  I don't believe they ever have or need a reason. It's nice that the experience can sometimes be changed from a scary ER trip into just another thing that happened today, by using a simple vacuum and a pen.

I also think it's great that other parents have chimed in with alternative methods to try. I heart the Instructables community.
izzyinsf4 years ago
ha! the "memorial hospital" pen is a nice touch.
phredrik4 years ago
Step 1: Make child smell pepper
Step 2: Wait for sneeze.

Works well, have done it in the past, when my wife did daycare. Although I do enjoy the extra effort that this involves.
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