Every device that requires just a little bit of power has them – watches, small toys, flashlights, you name it: small, disc-shaped batteries. And while you know that swallowing batteries is never a good idea, you might not know that these present an extreme risk for young children.
First of all, they don’t look like batteries at all. So a good kid who would never stick a battery in their mouth might not think twice about sticking this shiny looking disk in. Secondly, the batteries look small, but they are just big enough to get caught in a young child’s throat or stomach.
Once they are stuck in the throat, even if the battery is dead, there can be just enough juice left to set up a current when they come in contact with the moist tissues inside the human body, burning a hole through the esophagus, trachea or stomach. Children who have swallowed batteries often develop flu-like symptoms.
Several kids are treated for battery-caused incidents every single year, but progress is being made. The electronics industry and battery makers are working hand-in-hand with health professionals to develop safer packaging, more warning labels, and smaller batteries that won’t get caught inside the body.
But this progress is coming at a slow rate. Lincoln Punch was only a week old when he swallowed a tiny button battery. He was rushed to the hospital, but at that point the battery had already burned through his esophagus and trachea, and each breath was channeled into his stomach instead of his lungs.
On his first birthday, his mother posted the following on a blog on which she posts updates about her son:
“Now that everything has been done, Lincoln lost all the tips of his fingers on his right hand, all of his toes on his right foot, his thumb, pointer finger, and half of his middle, ring and pinkie fingers on his left hand. His left foot is almost half gone. But the good news is that he is learning to do all the things that he should be doing, and it doesn’t seem to bother him a bit! I’m so proud of my little man!”
Let Lincoln’s tragedy serve as a warning story for you – keep close watch on your children and make sure you know what they are coming in contact with. If you have any questions or concerns related to your children – or yourself – the staff and doctors at Alexandria Otolaryngology Associates can help point you in the right direction.
All you have to do is call.