If your son accidentally swallows a battery — of any type of size — it likely warrants a pilgrimage to the emergency room. This is what parents should know. 


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Used to power remote controls, watches, music greeting cards, listening aids and even numerous toys, those ubiquitous — and seemingly light — lithium batteries deserve to be toxic in small hands.

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That’s since the button-sized devices, if swallowed, could end up being lodged in the esophagus and cause a perhaps dangerous injury due to a chemical reaction between the esophagus lining and also the battery’s continuing to be current.

The result: a caustic burn who severity can escalate simply minutes ~ a battery enters the body. 

“The longer you leaving it in the esophagus, the more damage over there is,” claims Meghan Arnold, M.D., a pediatric surgeon at university of Michigan C.S. Mott children Hospital. “A (swallowed) coin can wait till the morning to come out; a switch battery requires activity the minute you uncover out around it.”

Doctors commonly use an endoscope and also a grasper device to very closely remove the item while the patient is under basic anesthesia. Relying on the situation, the procedure could be carry out by a pediatric surgeon, gastroenterologist or otolaryngologist. Most cases require follow-up care and also examination ~ discharge to ensure healing.

The risks of together batteries — prevalent sufficient that a switch Battery Task pressure was created to deal with the difficulty — often go unnoticed through parents that arrive at the hospital in shock the the family item might inflict so much harm.

“The general population is not conscious of how dangerous these batteries are,” says George Zacur, M.D., a Mott pediatric gastroenterologist who co-authored a 2015 report citing that switch batteries have end up being deadlier since of an increased diameter and also a readjust to lithium cells.

He recalls a recent case in which a young son swallowed an old battery indigenous a garage door opener after the parents readjusted it out.

Although little time had actually passed before arriving at the hospital, resulting throat damage was substantial.


Growing concern

Physicians at Mott handle around five come 10 button battery ingestions each year, says Zacur, who hasn’t checked out a noticeable increase in associated admissions but provided the growing inclusion the the battery in everyday products has “made them more of a problem.”

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Nationwide, more than 3,500 such incidents are report to poison control centers yearly in the united States, according to the task force, i beg your pardon maintains the the actual variety of episodes is most likely higher.

The task force likewise reports that cases involving major injury or death quadrupled between 2006 and also 2010 contrasted to the 5 years prior.

At UMHS, many of the battery gulp down patients space 5 year of age or younger.

“Kids space inquisitive; like most things they encounter, they’ll put (batteries) in your mouths,” states Arnold. “They space small, lock shiny.”


Most dangerous, the task pressure notes, are button batteries the measure 20 millimeters in broad — about the dimension of a nickel — and are more prone come get recorded in a child’s esophagus.

Less worrisome are smaller batteries that finish up in the stomach where they’ll most likely pass in a bowel movement. A chest X-ray can aid determine an ideal course of action.

Avoiding injury

Families have to take proactive actions to store all batteries, no issue the size, the end of reach.

That means only buying toys that have battery pockets or pouches secured with a screw. Save remote controls, hear aids and other together items on higher shelves or surfaces (and, that course, any loose replacement batteries together well).

Still, claims Arnold, “as long as battery exist they’re walking to it is in a problem.”

Which is why parents require to know the indicators of trouble.

Most accidental ingestions aren’t witnessed by an adult, according to the National funding Poison Center, which offers treatment guidelines and also a perform of symptom to look for if a battery is suspect to have been swallowed.

Among them: drooling, coughing, vomiting, chest pain, i can not qualify to swallow and refusal come eat.

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Meanwhile, discussions about choking and poison perils of all types — including dishwasher and laundry laundry detergent “pods,” toy piece such as Legos and monetary coins — must be had.

“We must educate ours families,” Zacur says, that notes that anything that have the right to fit through a toilet record tube shouldn’t be offered to small children. “Hopefully, over there is more awareness walk around.”