Swallowing Foreign Objects
Children and adults that have altered states due to illness such as stroke and alcohol abuse, and denture wearers, are more prone than others to accidentally swallowing small foreign objects.
Small and hazardous items need to be kept out of children's reach, particularly coins and batteries, both of which are common in households and are frequently swallowed foreign objects. Denture wearers lack the tactile sensation in their mouths that helps prevent inadvertently swallowing items like bones, and need to be especially careful.
Foreign objects may get stuck in the esophagus (swallowing passage) and cause symptoms of drooling and retching, pain in the chest area, choking, and difficulty swallowing. After several hours, other symptoms may develop such as vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, blood in the stool, and fever.
First Aid for Swallowing a Foreign Object
For anyone who is experiencing signs of a blocked airway, perform the Heimlich maneuver as outlined for choking. For other persistent symptoms seek medical attention, because in 20 percent of cases the object needs to be removed by your doctor with an endoscope procedure.
Any child suspected of swallowing a battery needs to be taken to the emergency department immediately because batteries corrode and release chemicals that can cause severe damage. Other non-caustic items, after the initial discomfort subsides, will often pass through on their own. For any questions or concerns, always consult with your medical-care professional.