Foreign Bodies

Julie Weber Is This A Poison

Toxicity: Foreign bodies that are soft, small, pliable, and non-sharp such as, pieces of foam, paper or fabric, marbles, soft plastic toys, and buttons usually will pass uneventfully through the GI tract after being swallowed.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  This information does not pertain to large, rigid, sharp or pointed objects such as screws, nails, pins and needles. It does not include coins, lead-containing objects, dry cell cylindrical batteries or disc shaped button batteries, or super absorbent polymers.  If your question involves the ingestion of one of these objects, call the poison center right away for medical advice: 1-800-222-1222.

Expected symptoms: Any type of foreign body has the potential to cause airway obstruction by getting  aspirated or breathed into the lung, or can get lodged in the esophagus causing an obstruction.  If there has been any choking, coughing, difficulty breathing or difficulty swallowing, call the poison center right away. If it is an emergency, call 911. 

What to do: If your child swallowed the foreign body, give them something sticky to eat (e.g., peanut butter crackers, bread or pasta), this sticky food, along with a serving of fluids helps to ensure the foreign body is brought down to the stomach.  Once in the stomach, the foreign body should pass through the system.

The majority of swallowed soft, pliable, small and non-sharp items of all types will pass through the intestines and come out in the stool without internal harm or damage.  If your child has chest pain, drooling, gagging or reports feeling that something is stuck in the throat, do not force food or fluids. Seek medical attention right away! 

If your child is not having the symptoms above,  have them drink fluids and eat a serving of “sticky” food. Watch for symptoms of abdominal pain or tenderness, persistent vomiting, and fever over the next few days.  These symptoms could indicate an obstruction in the intestines and needs to be evaluated by a doctor.

If you think your child has swallowed a foreign body, do not panic.  Inspect the mouth for any pieces of the foreign body and remove immediately, then give the child a snack and fluids.  Due to the wide variety of foreign bodies that are ingested, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222, for specific information about what has been swallowed.  The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.

**Note: Don’t forget, every case is different. To make sure you are getting the best information for your individual situation, click below to call or chat. It is fast, free, and confidential.