Foreign bodies, as buttons, pebbles, beans, cherry stones, coffee, etc., are frequently placed in the ear by children, and insects sometimes find their way into the ear passage and create tremendous distress by their struggles. Smooth, nonirritating bodies, as buttons, pebbles, etc., do no particular harm for a long time, and may remain unnoticed for years. But the most serious damage not infrequently results from unskillful attempts at their removal by persons (even physicians unused to instrumental work on the ear) who are driven to immediate and violent action on the false supposition that instant interference is called for. Insects, it is true, should be killed without delay by dropping into the ear sweet oil, castor, linseed, or machine oil or glycerin, or even water, if the others are not at hand, and then the insect should be removed in half an hour by syringing as recommended for wax.
To remove solid bodies, turn the ear containing the body, downward, pull it outward and backward, and rub the skin just in front of the opening into the ear with the other hand, and the object may fall out.
Failing in this, syringing with warm water, as for removal of wax, while the patient is sitting, may prove successful. The essentials of treatment then consist, first, in keeping cool; then in killing insects by dropping oil or water into the ear, and, if syringing proves ineffective, in using no instrumental methods in an attempt to remove the foreign body, but in awaiting such time as skilled medical services can be obtained. If beans or seeds are not washed out by syringing, the water may cause them to swell and produce pain. To obviate this, drop glycerin in the ear which absorbs water, and will thus shrivel the seed.