I'm All Ears: A Population-Based Analysis of Consumer Product Foreign Bodies of the Ear

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2022 Aug;131(8):829-833. doi: 10.1177/00034894211045638. Epub 2021 Sep 11.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess the nationwide incidence of ear foreign body (FB) presentations to the emergency department (ED) and analyze the most common FB consumer products encountered.

Methods: The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) was evaluated for ED visits that included "ear foreign bodies" from 2010 through 2019. The most frequent foreign bodies were identified and organized by demographics.

Results: A total of 20,545 ear FB cases were found, with an estimated 608,860 ED visits nationwide. Female patients (56%) were more likely to have jewelry and first aid equipment FBs. Males between the ages of 5 and 15 years were significantly (P < 0.05) more likely to have paper products, pens/pencils, and desk supplies in their ears.

Conclusion: Ear FBs represent a substantial proportion of healthcare expenditures. Although children are the most commonly affected individuals, all ages require further education and preventive measures.

Keywords: consumer product safety; cotton-tipped applicators; ear foreign bodies; foreign bodies; jewelry foreign bodies; national electronic surveillance system.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ear*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies