Despite their small size, lithium button batteries can cause serious injury and death in children if swallowed. This video from the Poison Control Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia explains how button battery ingestion injures children, symptoms to look out for, and what to do if you think your child may have swallowed a battery.
If you think your child may have swallowed a button battery, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.
Button Batteries: A Danger to Children
Despite their small size, button batteries can carry a potent charge. If swallowed, a lithium button battery may travel through the throat, stomach, and intestines with no issues. But beware — swallowed button batteries can cause serious injury. They can even be deadly.
There have been many, many cases of button batteries becoming lodged in children’s throats and causing burns. It can happen as quickly as one hour after being swallowed.
A button battery can cause damage in three ways: First, it can create electrical current. Second, it can put pressure on sensitive tissues and third, it can leak harmful chemicals from the battery. And all of these can cause burns to the throat or the stomach. The burn can be so intense after only several hours of exposure that the voice box can be destroyed or internal bleeding can occur.
If you think a child may have swallowed a button battery, call the Poison Center right away. It may be important to take the child to a hospital to get checked out.
Early symptoms after swallowing a button battery can be mild; things like a sore throat, trouble swallowing, a little cough. But as the battery remains stuck, it can continue to cause significant damage leading to even more severe symptoms such as trouble breathing, abdominal pain, chest pain, bloody vomiting, and shock.
This damage can be permanent, leading to the inability to eat through the mouth or to speak, and unfortunately death has been reported following button battery ingestions.
If you look, you’ll probably find you have button batteries in your home right now. Button batteries can be found in everyday items such as greeting cards, remote controls, bathroom scales, digital thermometers, cameras, calculators and lots of other electronics. If you have children, it’s a good idea to avoid buying things with button batteries if you can.
If you have products containing button batteries, especially those that can be accessed without a screwdriver, they should be stored out of reach of children and never leave loose button batteries lying around, accessible to young children, and never use your mouth to hold a button battery. Accidental ingestion of batteries can occur in adults, too.
Now, remember, if you or someone you love swallows a battery, call the Poison Control Center right away. The number’s 1-800-222-1222 and you can get expert treatment advice.