Swallowed Foreign Object

Immediate symptoms of swallowed foreign objects are:

  • Pain in the esophagus or chest
  • Choking
  • Difficulty swallowing

A few hours later, the following symptoms may develop:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the stomach
  • Blood in the stool
  • Fever (if the object is trapped in the lower intestines)

Who Often Swallows Foreign Objects?

Small children, as well as adults suffering from drugs and alcohol abuse, those with stroke, psychiatric and neurological illnesses are prone to swallowing foreign objects. Surprisingly, denture wearers are also susceptible to accidentally swallowing bones and other items. This is because dentures eliminate much of the feeling or tactile sensation in the mouth.

How Can It Be Prevented?

For small children, care should be done to remove objects smaller than a quarter, and put away household chemicals and cleansers, as well as breakables.

Denture wearers need to be aware of the danger of accidentally swallowing small bones, toothpicks, and other small items.

What Are Its Treatments?

If the swallowed foreign object blocks the airways, emergency care such as a Heimlich maneuver needs to be immediately performed.

In about 80% of the cases, the foreign object passes through without any intervention. In the 20% of the cases, the object has to be removed with an endoscopic procedure. In less than 1%, surgery is required.

Small batteries are increasingly becoming a choking and accidental-swallowing hazard, especially for small children. Batteries need to be immediately removed, as they can corrode and release caustic chemicals that can injure the esophagus and stomach. Children that swallowed battery need to be taken to the emergency room immediately.

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