Skip to main content

Esophageal Foreign Body in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What is an esophageal foreign body?

An esophageal foreign body is an object your child swallowed that got stuck in his or her 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.

What increases my child's risk for an esophageal foreign body?

The risk is highest among children 6 months to 3 years old. This is because babies and toddlers put objects in their mouths to learn about them. Your child's risk is also high if he or she has a mental or physical disability, has a gastrointestinal abnormality, or has had gastrointestinal surgery.

What are the signs and symptoms of an esophageal foreign body in children?

How is an esophageal foreign body in children diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will examine your child's throat, chest, and abdomen. Tell the provider your child's symptoms. If you saw your child swallow the object, tell your child's provider exactly what happened and when. The provider may use any of the following to find the object:

How may an esophageal foreign body be removed?

Your child's healthcare provider may choose to observe your child for 24 hours or longer. Most objects pass through the digestive system on their own within 7 to 10 days. Objects that are small or smooth will often pass without a problem. You will need to search for the object every time your child has a bowel movement. Do not give your child laxatives or stool softeners. Do not force your child to vomit. Your child's provider may try to remove the object with any of the following:

How can an esophageal foreign body in children be prevented?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my child's doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

© Copyright Merative 2024 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Learn more about Esophageal Foreign Body

Care guides

Further information

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