'Mother's Kiss' Dislodges Objects in Kids' Noses

A mom taps her daughter on the nose.
(Image credit: Mother and daughter photo via Shutterstock)

Young kids have been known to get some strange things stuck up their noses.

In a new review, researchers looked at an extraction technique tried on children with various objects lodged up there, including buttons, beads, an eraser, a pea, a sunflower seed, a plastic doll’s shoe, a piece of sausage, a small stone, "vegetable matter," a sponge, tissue paper, a magnet and a raisin.

The review showed that the technique, called a mother's kiss, is a good way to get such stuff out of kids' noses.

"The mother’s kiss appears to be a safe and effective technique for first-line treatment in the removal of a foreign body from the nasal cavity," the researchers wrote in their study. The technique may prevent the need for more invasive measures, such as a hook, forceps, or suction to remove objects, and even prevent the need for general anesthesia in some cases, they said.

The technique was first described in 1965 by a general practitioner in New Jersey, Vladimir Ctibor, according to the study.

To perform it, an adult places his or her mouth over the child's open mouth and forms a seal. While blocking the unaffected nostril with a finger, the adult gently blows until they feel a resistance — this is caused by closure of the child’s glottis, which is the part of the larynx that contains the vocal cords.Once the resistance is felt, the adult briefly exhales sharply, delivering a short puff of air that passes from the child’s mouth, up through the nasal passages, and out through the nostril.

With luck, the object is expelled with the air.

In their review, the researchers led by Dr. Stephanie Cook, of Buxted Medical Centre in England, looked at eight studies, including a total of 154 cases where the technique was used on children between ages 1 and 8, and found it worked in 93 cases.

It might be helpful to explain the technique to before starting, so the child is not frightened, the researchers said. "Children in this age group have a natural fear of the unknown, and providing care to them can be difficult, especially if previous attempts to remove the foreign body have been painful," they said.

The main risk of the technique is injuring the child's eardrums or airways with the sudden increase in air pressure, according to the study. However, the risk of this is low, because the glottis is closed, and there were no reports of this occurring in the studies reviewed. There is also a danger, anytime a child has an object in their nose, that child could inhale and choke on the object, but this was also not reported, they said.

The technique may be more successful at removing objects that completely block a nostril, compared with objects that allow air to pass, because fully-blocking objects are more likely to be propelled out of the nose, according to two of the studies in the review.

The mother's kiss can be performed by health care providers, and can be repeated several times if the first try is unsuccessful, the researchers said.

Further research into "positive-pressure" techniques is needed to test their effectiveness in different situations, they said.

Pass it on: A mother's kiss can help dislodge objects stuck in a child's nose.

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Live Science Staff
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