Button batteries, also called disc or coin batteries, are small in size but can pack a strong charge. Each year, about 3,500 button battery cases are reported to U.S. poison control centers nationwide. Young children under the age of 4 are at greatest risk of injury.
There are three main causes for injury when a button battery is swallowed:
- If lodged in the food-pipe (esophagus) or choked on and enters the airway (trachea), it can cause a blockage and pressure on sensitive tissues.
- This pressure can result in a burn by forming an electrical current in the narrow space. Injury can occur rapidly in as little as 2 hours.
- These burns can be serious, even life-threatening.
- The battery contents can leak onto the tissue or in the stomach causing an additional risk of a burn.