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Did Your Child Swallow a Foreign Body?

Small child about to swallow a capsule for washing believing that it is candy isolated on white

As much as we want to keep an eye on our kids every second of the day, that is nearly impossible. That is especially true when they are very young. You look away for a moment and your kid is happily crawling to the other side of the house. Little kids love to put things in their mouths. It’s how they explore the world around them. But if we don’t stop them in time, it can become a serious situation. Has your child accidentally swallowed a foreign body? You are not alone. Foreign body ingestion is very common among children between six months and three years old. But don’t worry, MD365® will help you get through this stressful situation.  

Asymptomatic vs Symptomatic

About 40% of foreign body ingestions aren’t witnessed. To top it off, many kids never show any symptoms. Objects that are swallowed and have passed through the esophagus usually go unnoticed. 80%-90% of foreign bodies in the digestive symptom pass through without any complications. 

However, depending on what the object is and the size of it, it can cause some serious complications. Your child’s bowel wall can get punctured or the object can become an obstruction. As a result, your child might struggle when using the bathroom. The object can also get stuck in your child’s esophagus. Some of these symptoms are vomiting and wheezing.

Additional Symptoms of Esophageal Foreign Bodies

If the object is stuck somewhere in the esophagus, your child will most likely show some of these symptoms:

  • Gagging
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Blood in their saliva
  • Food refusal
  • Pain in the neck, throat, or chest
  • Respiratory distress

If your child shows any of these symptoms, take them to their family physician immediately. MD365™ will provide urgent care before the foreign body causes serious damage.

Common Objects That Are Swallowed

Coins are the most common object swallowed. As long as it is not a quarter, it is usually safe. If your child swallows other small, blunt objects (non-sharp), your child should be safe too. Some of these foreign bodies include small buttons, toy parts, rings, paper clips, and teeth. 

Then we have objects that are very serious and need to be removed immediately. Button batteries can cause low-voltage burns within two hours if they are stuck in the esophagus. They can even puncture the esophagus. If they make it into the stomach, the batteries will usually pass safely. Magnets are very dangerous too. They can become attracted to each other across the bowel wall. Sharp objects should be urgently removed. These include needles, pins, nails, tooth picks, and bottle caps.

MD365® Family Physicians 

If your child has swallowed a dangerous foreign body, get in touch with us right away. Regardless if your child is showing symptoms or not, it’s always best to play it safe. Our family physicians will thoroughly examine your child and decide whether surgical removal is needed, or if it will pass through naturally. We will assist you and your child every step of the way. If you have any further questions, please give us a call. MD365® is here for you.



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