First Aid Advice For Swallowing A Button Battery

Button Batteries

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Can you survive swallowing a button battery

Button batteries can cause death if swallowed! We all have multiple devices in our homes containing small button batteries within them. Children love to stick the shiny, small, flat, silver discs in their mouths and swallow them. But what happens once they have swallowed a button battery? What First Aid do you employ, and what will happen to them if you don’t do anything?

If someone swallows a battery and either of the following situations occur, call 000 in Australia if the person is:

  • Choking
  • Having trouble breathing

Seek Immediate Medical Assessment

Go directly to your local hospital accident and emergency department, not your local GP.

At this point, the battery is not life-threatening if the person is not choking and can breathe normally. However, after assessment, the person might require admission for surgical extraction of the battery. A doctor cannot do that in their office. 

If possible, and you know what kind of button battery was swallowed, bring the battery package or a matching battery with you to the emergency department. This will give the staff information they require for treatment and make identifying the item easier in the tests.

In most cases, you will be scheduled to get an X-ray immediately so they can locate where the battery is and if there is more than one. Children sometimes swallow several button batteries if they manage to get them out of the housing unit.

What Not To Do If Button Battery Is Swallowed

  • Do not induce vomiting. You might think that is the best solution, but it is not. If, for any reason, the battery housing case has ruptured, the chemicals inside will cause more damage and burn the oesophagus being vomited up than left in the already acidic stomach acid.

  • Do not let the person eat or drink until an X-ray has been taken. You do not want any food or liquid potentially obscuring the battery preventing its easy location and identification on the X-ray. Should surgery be required, having no stomach content reduces the risk of aspiration during surgery.

Results Of The X-ray And A Treatment Plan

The next step in the treatment plan depends on the X-ray results. If the X-ray shows the button battery is lodged in the oesophagus, it will be removed immediately using an endoscopy procedure.,your%20small%20intestine%20(duodenum).

If the X-ray shows the battery location is in the stomach, and there are no obvious signs of the button battery casing having been compromised, the person may not need further medical treatment and will be sent home to poo out the battery naturally.

The battery should pass through their small and large intestines without causing any damage and be eliminated in their next bowel movement. 

However, if you are sent home or stayed at home, and the person develops a fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, or blood in the stools, go to the emergency room immediately. The casing of the battery may have been compromised, leaching the corrosive content into the intestine. This will require prompt surgery and hospitalisation.

A secondary X-ray may be needed after 48 hours if there was no immediate treatment deemed necessary to ensure the battery has been voided from the body intact with a bowel movement.

Endoscopy Procedure Explained

If the button battery is lodged in the oesophagus and the medical staff deem an endoscopy necessary, the procedure isn’t as harrowing as you might fear.

During an endoscopy, your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube equipped with a light and camera (the endoscope) down your throat and into your oesophagus. The tiny camera lets your doctor examine your oesophagus, stomach, and the beginning of your small intestine (duodenum). The endoscope also has provisions for tool attachment so that a grabbing arm or any other tool required can be employed to latch onto the button battery and carefully remove it. 

Do They Put You To Sleep For An Endoscopy Procedure

All endoscopic procedures involve some degree of sedation, which relaxes you and subdues your gag reflex, so you aren’t constantly trying to wretch or vomit with the intrusion down your throat. 

Depending on the specific type of medication they use to offer sedation, and to what level sedation is required, you will be placed into a moderate and temporary deep sleep during the procedure. 

You will not feel any discomfort when the endoscope is inserted through the mouth and into the stomach. In some cases, an endoscope will be inserted via the nasal passage, completely avoiding the mouth so larger tools and suction units can withdraw the obstruction or battery.


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