Skip to Content

Esophageal Foreign Body


Esophageal foreign body is an object you swallowed that got stuck in your esophagus (throat). Examples include dental work and button batteries. A piece of food or a fish bone can also become stuck in your esophagus.


Call 911 if:

  • You have chest or abdominal pain, or shortness of breath.
  • You are choking.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have more pain when you swallow.
  • You have severe vomiting.
  • Your vomit is bloody.
  • Your bowel movements are black or bloody.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You do not find the object in your bowel movement within 2 or 3 days.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Look for the object in your bowel movements:

Search for the dental work, battery, or other small, smooth object each time you have a bowel movement. Do not use laxatives or stool softeners. Do not force yourself to vomit.

If you swallowed another object:

  • Do not stick your finger into your throat to try and remove an object. This could push the object even deeper.
  • Do cough. You may be able to cough out the object.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return for x-rays or other tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Esophageal Foreign Body (Aftercare Instructions)

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.