These accidents mainly concern children from 1 to 3 years old, that is to say children who have developed the grip and carry everything in their mouths. The consequences can be dramatic. Fortunately, the number of accidents is low, less than 100 per year in France but constantly increasing, due to the miniaturization of toys and electronic devices. Children remove these batteries from remote controls or toys, take them out of their packaging, or swallow these batteries lying around.

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What are the risks of swallowing a button battery?

If a button cell battery is ingested, the risk that comes first is obstruction of the airways and suffocation. But it is also necessary to think about the fixation of the pile at the level of the mucous membranes. The battery is not just a coin. The battery itself is not dangerous, but it can stick to the walls of the esophagus or in the stomach, which is particularly dangerous.

This accident of everyday life can turn into a tragedy because of the risk of suffocation and because the chemical components of these batteries that are found inside the body can be fatal. They release extremely toxic substances.

Once ingested, if the battery gets stuck in the esophagus, it can diffuse its ingredients, which burn the lining and cause damage very quickly. Within two hours, it can cause severe symptoms up to and including perforation. Once this stage is reached, it is then necessary to have recourse to a major reconstruction surgery.

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What to do if a button cell battery is swallowed?

In case of ingestion, you must go to the emergency room or call for help on the 15th, because it is an emergency. The time to act is very short, on average two hours. The diagnosis can easily be made to the emergency room with an x-ray. If the pile is high and located on the esophagus or stomach, then an endoscopy is done to remove the pile. On the other hand, if the battery has already passed the stomach, it is necessary to wait for its evacuation by natural means and to evaluate the consequences. The patient is therefore systematically hospitalized.

Also read: Parents, beware of “button batteries”!

Instructions to follow

The best way to avoid such an accident is to follow a few guidelines:

  • be vigilant and do not leave batteries lying around in drawers or coffee tables;
  • not show children how to change batteries in TV remote controls, for example;
  • all toys must be NF or CE certified. This means that the battery compartment must be screwed on, so that it is impossible for a child to open it on their own.

If you are in doubt as to whether or not your child has swallowed a battery, do not hesitate to go to the emergency room. Do not try to induce vomiting or give the child to drink … The chemicals would cause additional damage during vomiting. If you hear your child coughing and find them with the remote open, even if they are breathing well, that doesn’t mean they haven’t ingested a battery. We then go directly to the emergency room. Better to take an x-ray for nothing than to have a disaster.