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Ear emergencies

  • First Aid

    Follow the steps below, depending on the type of ear emergency.


    1. Calm and reassure the person.
    2. If the object is sticking out and easy to remove, gently remove it by hand or with tweezers. Then, get medical help to make sure the entire object was removed.
    3. If you think a small object may be lodged within the ear, but you cannot see it, DO NOT reach inside the ear canal with tweezers. You can do more harm than good.
    4. Try using gravity to get the object out by tilting the head to the affected side. DO NOT strike the person's head. Shake it gently in the direction of the ground to try to dislodge the object.
    5. If the object doesn't come out, get medical help.


    1. DO NOT let the person put a finger in the ear, since this may make the insect sting.
    2. Turn the person's head so that the affected side is up, and wait to see if the insect flies or crawls out.
    3. If this doesn't work, try pouring mineral oil, olive oil, or baby oil into the ear. As you pour the oil, pull the ear lobe gently backward and upward for an adult, or backward and downward for a child. The insect should suffocate and may float out in the oil. AVOID using oil to remove any object other than an insect, since oil can cause other kinds of objects to swell.
    4. Even if an insect appears to come out, get medical attention. Small insect parts can irritate the sensitive skin of the ear canal.


    The person will have severe pain. Place sterile cotton gently in the outer ear canal to keep the inside of the ear clean.

    1. Get medical help.
    2. Do not put any liquid into the ear.


    1. Apply direct pressure until the bleeding stops.
    2. Cover the injury with a sterile dressing shaped to the contour of the ear, and tape it loosely in place.
    3. Apply cold compresses over the dressing to reduce pain and swelling.
    4. If part of the ear has been cut off, keep the part. Get medical help immediately.
    5. Place the part in a clean cloth and keep it on ice.


    1. Cover the outside of the ear with a sterile dressing shaped to the contour of the ear, and tape it loosely in place.
    2. Have the person lie down on the side with the affected ear down so that it can drain. However, DO NOT move the person if a neck or back injury is suspected.
    3. Get medical help immediately.

    Do Not
    • DO NOT block any drainage coming from the ear.
    • DO NOT try to clean or wash the inside of the ear canal.
    • DO NOT put any liquid into the ear.
    • DO NOT attempt to remove the object by probing with a cotton swab, pin, or any other tool. To do so will risk pushing the object farther into the ear and damaging the middle ear.
    • DO NOT reach inside the ear canal with tweezers.

    Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if

    The following symptoms, which may indicate significant trauma to the ear, should be evaluated by a physician:

    • Pain in the ear
    • Ringing sounds
    • Dizziness (vertigo) 
    • Hearing loss
    • Drainage or blood from the ear
    • Recent blow to your ear or head