Kids and nose picking

Does your child pick their nose? Get some advice on how to stop them

Who nose best?
My two-year-old keeps sticking things up his nose. Last week I only just managed to dig out two rice crispies and a raisin – all stuck up the same nostril! I’m watching him like a hawk, but it’s only a matter of time before he does it again. Any advice?
Ava Pick, Mirdif

Toddlers like putting things in things – and we encourage them by giving them shape sorters, nursery puzzles and slotting cup sets etc. But nothing ever really compares with the curiosity of putting things in their own orifices, says Dr Rita Kovesdi, Specialist Peadiatrician at the Health Bay Polyclinic in Umm Suqeim.

‘And when they’re going through this stage, parents have to be vigilant,’ she warns. Objects rammed up noses, jammed in ears – and other bodily entrances (no, we’re not kidding) is entirely normal, but can produce some unfortunate results that often end in trips to A&E.

‘Food is a big culprit because children are strapped into their high chairs during mealtimes, and they like to experiment with what’s in front of them. But objects up the nose can be dangerous, because if they go up too far, they can be inhaled into the lungs, or even get lodged in the throat and cause choking.’

So what does one do? And how will a parent know if little Polly has shoved one pea up too far for comfort? ‘Don’t try to remove it yourself, because you may only end up pushing it further in,’ says Dr Rita. ‘This is one instance where getting your child to a clinic to remove the object is important.’

But can a pea – or a similar object – really be the cause of such panicked upheaval? ‘It’s better to be safe than sorry,’ she advises. ‘Sometimes, objects get stuck up kids’ noses and parents don’t always realise. They can be there for months, causing wheezing, croup-like coughs and even bouts of pneumonia if they get stuck in the lungs.’

Are there any common objects that tend to get lodged in tots more frequently? ‘Oh yes. Coins, buttons, beads, tiny bits that come off toys, etc. Small, round batteries, like the ones from PDA’s or watches, or cameras etc, are more serious culprits. Kids like them because they look like pills and they’re small enough to swallow, or stick in the nose. The trouble is that they contain poisonous chemicals like magnesium and lithium, and it’s dangerous if they start to leak.’

Although surgical removal isn’t that common, she says, it’s not unheard of either. But if an object is merely swallowed, most doctors would advise parents to watch their tot’s nappies or potty deposits for a good 24 hours before panicking. ‘Any object smaller than 50 millimeters in length or 20 millimeters in diameter, can usually be passed through the gut without any problem,’ she advises.

And what about ears? ‘Bugs as well as objects can find their way into ears, and when they do, a good way to get them out is to tip a little warm oil into the ear. It’s an old fashioned method – but an effective one. Though if something’s well and truly stuck, get an expert to remove it for you.’
Dr Rita Kovesdi is a Specialist Pediatrician at the Health Bay Polyclinic in Umm Suqeim, 04 348 7140;

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