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Disc Batteries

Are you aware that the disc batteries which power so many household products pose a risk for serious symptoms?

Most often when a disc (or button) battery is swallowed, it passes into the stomach, moves all the way through the system, and will come out in the stool within about 4-7 days. The risk for significant injury happens when the disc battery gets stuck in the esophagus, or the tube that moves food from the throat to the stomach. An older child or an adult will usually realize the battery is stuck because of the discomfort, but a younger child or adult with special needs may not be able to communicate that something is wrong. They might show symptoms of acting fussy, drooling or refusing to eat or drink. Quick action is very important because a disc battery can cause an electrical burn to the esophagus within a matter of a couple hours.

If a disc battery is swallowed call the Poison Help line right away at 1-800-222-1222, this is especially important for children younger than 6 years.  Children require an immediate x-ray following a disc battery ingestion of any size to determine its location in the body, even if they are having no symptoms. Older children and adults may also require a localization x-ray, depending on the battery size and if symptoms are present.  Do not delay in calling for help, even if you are not sure if it was swallowed.  We will provide immediate assistance about the next steps based on the details you provide.  Treatment will depend on where battery is found on the x-ray, but if it is in the esophagus immediate removal is necessary. Disc batteries may also cause damage when stuck in the nose or ears.

Where are disc batteries found?

  • Remote controls
  • Hearing aids
  • Musical greeting cards
  • Electronic key fobs
  • Cameras
  • Flameless battery candles
  • Fit-bits and other wearable tech devices
  • Holiday ornaments
  • Digital thermometers
  • Handheld gaming systems
  • Calculators

Tips to prevent disc battery exposures in children:

  • Check the battery compartment of all the items powered with button batteries to make sure it has a cover that closes with screws.
  • If the battery compartments aren’t secured with screws, keep devices out of the reach of children.
  • Lock up any replacement disc batteries.
  • When discarding a used battery throw it in the trash right away because even spent batteries can cause injury. Put it inside something such as an empty milk jug to prevent easy access for curious children.
  • Program the Poison Help line into your phone: 1-800-222-1222.
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