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Esophageal Foreign Body in Children


Esophageal foreign body is an object your child swallowed that got stuck in his esophagus (throat). Coins, button batteries, small toys, and screws are commonly swallowed objects. A piece of food or a fish bone can also become stuck in your child's esophagus.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child has chest or abdominal pain.
  • Your child is choking.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child's vomit is bloody.
  • Your child's bowel movement is black or bloody.
  • Your child has trouble swallowing or breathing.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • The object has not come out after 2 to 3 days.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Look for the object in your child's bowel movements:

Search for the coin, battery, or other small, smooth object each time your child has a bowel movement. Do not give your child laxatives or stool softeners.

Prevent esophageal foreign body from happening again:

  • Never leave any small item anywhere your child can reach it. This includes coins, earrings, small toys, batteries, and magnets.
  • Teach older children to keep small toys away from babies and toddlers. Marbles are especially easy for babies to swallow.
  • Keep nails and screws away from young children. Count them before and after you finish a project.
  • Keep medicines in childproof containers.

If you think your child swallowed another foreign body:

  • Do not stick your finger into your child's throat to try and remove an object. This could push the object even deeper.
  • Do tell your child to cough if he is old enough to understand. He may be able to cough out the object.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

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

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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 in Children (Aftercare Instructions)

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Further information

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