Button Batteries

TV remote, grandpa's hearing aid, the watch on your wrist, calculator on your desk, key fob in your purse, some children's toys and possibly even the greeting card lying on the kitchen table. Do you know what they have in common? Button Batteries!

Also, known as "disc batteries" these small disc shaped batteries can be very dangerous if they are ingested or placed in the nose or ear. Since button batteries are small and round, they have mistakenly been ingested by adults when they have had them laying out next to their other pills. Curious children may decide to eat these pretty shiny mysteries.

Ingestion of these tiny culprits is considered a medical emergency because the battery can cause burns or errosion to the surrounding tissue. The electrical current from the battery can damage tissue. These small foreign bodies are also a choking hazard. If swallowed, it may become lodged in the esophagus. An x-ray is needed of the neck and chest to determine its location. More so, if a button battery is swallowed with a magnet, the combination can cause an obstruction and retreival of these foreign bodies is necessary right away.

If the x-ray shows the battery to be located in the stomach, observation is needed until it passes. During that time the stools need to be checked to see when the battery passes. During this observation time one needs to be alert to symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, bloody stools, abdominal pain and decreased appetite and immediately seek medical help if these symptoms arise.

Some children have ingested button batteries without the caregivers knowledge. This can be a very serious situation. Symptoms of a button battery ingestion might include coughing, choking, increased drooling, vomiting or difficulty swallowing. Since these are common items in the household one should keep in mind the possibility of a button battery ingestion in a child suddenly has any of these unexplained symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, fever, abdominal pain or chest or throat pain.

Always discuss your concerns with your physician. And keep in mind that the Indiana Poison Center trained professionals are available 24 hours a day should there be a button battery ingestion in your home. Never hesitate to call for help 1-800-222-1222.

Button Battery Safety Week is November 13-19. For a Button Batter Safety Tool Kit, please click here.

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