Swallowing abnormal things

 
Contributed by : Ravina Sewani   
Swallowing abnormal things

Kids tend to swallow many items including toys, buttons, coins, earrings, rings, paper clips, game pieces, needles, pins, tacks, toothpicks, screws, button batteries, magnets, and nails.

Kids tend to swallow many items including toys, buttons, coins, earrings, rings, paper clips, game pieces, needles, pins, tacks, toothpicks, screws, button batteries, magnets, and nails. Most objects that children swallow are harmless, and pass through the digestive system without any problem. Do not force your child to vomit in any case, this might worsen the situation.


Objects that become stuck in the oesophagus, stomach or intestines may need to be removed. Two things are especially dangerous: button batteries and magnets.


  • When you notice that your child has swallowed a button battery, go to your nearest hospital emergency department or call an ambulance immediately. Do not induce vomiting. If a button battery is swallowed and gets stuck in the oesophagus, it can burn through the tissue in just two hours, causing severe injury or death.
  • Magnets can be dangerous too, especially if two or more are swallowed. If your child has swallowed two magnets, they can damage the intestines. In this case, go to your nearest hospital emergency department.
  • If your child is older than 1 year, you can give 2 teaspoons of honey every 10 minutes until you get to the hospital to try to prevent injury. Once the object reaches the stomach, the situation becomes less serious.


Call for medical help if your child has:

  • Has trouble swallowing food
  • Has excessive drooling along with blood
  • Has pain in the chest or neck
  • Has coughing
  • Has fever
  • Refuses food
  • Has vomiting
  • Passes blood in the stool
  • If your child is coughing or is having difficulty breathing, the object may be in their airway or lungs. You should call an ambulance immediately if your child is having trouble breathing.


Treatment in the hospital:

  • In hospital, a doctor or nurse will ask what your child has swallowed. An X-ray may be done if the swallowed object is made of material that shows up on an X-ray, or if your child has worrying symptoms.
  • If doctors are unable to see a swallowed object on an X-ray and your child has no worrying symptoms, it is OK to take your child home.


Swallow test:

  • If your child has swallowed something small and shows no signs of trouble, the doctor will first suggest them to drink water. If water passes down easily, the doctor will then recommend trying a piece of bread. (Enzymes in saliva will help dissolve the bread if it sticks.) If either of these causes any problems, the doctor will then proceed for the treatment.
  • If the object gets stuck between the mouth and throat, the doctor may try to get it out with tools through the mouth (endoscopically). Your child might be given medication to make them sleepy before the procedure. Another alternative is to give drugs that relax the muscles so that the swallowed object can pass into the stomach.
  • If the object is large, sharp, or dangerous and has moved into the stomach, the doctor will try to take the object out through the mouth. If that doesn't work, X-ray results are analysed to track the object’s movement. The doctor may recommend an operation to remove the item if it’s sharp and doesn’t seem to be making its way out of their body, or might damage their intestines.


Plastic Wrap:

If your child has swallowed a plastic wrap, don’t worry as it will be thrown out in the stools within a day or two. You can give bananas to your child as they are known to aid smooth movement of the bowel. Watch for nausea, vomiting, indigestion, diarrhoea, breathing difficulty, if present consult paediatrician.

But next time, take very good care so that your baby doesn't swallow anything abnormal.


When the child has swallowed poison:

A poison is any harmful substance that is inhaled, injected, swallowed or absorbed through the skin. Swallowing of the poison always requires medical treatment hence call for medical help as soon as you suspect your child of having swallowed a poison.


Signs and symptoms of poisoning may include:

  • Burns or redness around the mouth and lips
  • Breath that smells like chemicals
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion or other altered mental status
  • Having seizures


If you suspect poisoning, be alert for clues such as empty pill bottles or packages, scattered pills, and burns, stains and odors on the child or nearby objects.


Take the following actions until help arrives:

  • Swallowed poison: Remove anything remaining in your child’s mouth. If the suspected poison is a household cleaner or other chemical, read the container's label and follow instructions for accidental poisoning.
  • Poison on the skin: Remove any contaminated clothing using gloves. Rinse the skin for 15 to 20 minutes in a shower.
  • Poison in the eye: Gently flush the eye with cool or lukewarm water for 20 minutes or until help arrives.
  • Inhaled poison: Get your child into fresh air as soon as possible.
  • Begin CPR if the person shows no signs of life, such as moving, breathing or coughing.



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