Skip to main content

Foreign Body in Pharynx

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

A foreign body in the pharynx is an object that gets stuck in your child's throat. Some examples include small toys, button batteries, and magnets. Foods such as hotdogs or raw fruits and vegetables can also become stuck. Your child may choke on the object.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child has trouble swallowing.
  • Your child cannot stop coughing, choking, or wheezing.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has blood in his saliva.
  • Your child does not want to eat because it hurts to swallow.
  • Your child is drooling.
  • Your child has hoarse speech.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

What to do if your child is choking:

  • Call 911 if your child was choking and has passed out. Do CPR if you are trained on how to do it. If you or no one else has been trained, just wait for help to arrive.
  • Call 911 if your child is awake but cannot breathe, talk, make noise, or he is turning blue. Do abdominal thrusts (Heimlich Maneuver) if you are trained on how to do these. Abdominal thrusts must be done properly to avoid causing harm to a young child. Abdominal thrusts are taught in First Aid courses. CPR is also taught as part of this course.
  • Watch your child carefully if he can breathe and talk. Your child's airway is not completely blocked if he is able to breathe and talk. Do not pat his back or reach into his mouth to try to grab the object. These could push the object farther down the airway. Stay with your child and keep calm until the choking has stopped.


The following can help prevent another foreign body from getting stuck in your child's pharynx:

  • Be careful about foods you give children younger than 4. A child younger than 4 can easily choke on certain foods. Do not give him hotdogs, sausage, nuts or seeds, or chunks of meat or cheese. Do not give him popcorn, hard candy, gum, or marshmallows. Ask for more information on foods that can cause choking in young children.
  • Cut your child's food into small pieces. Remind him to chew his food well before he swallows. Do not allow your child to run with food in his mouth.
  • Inspect toys carefully before you give them to your child. Look at the toy closely to make sure there are no small parts that can easily come off and cause choking. Toy packages usually include warnings about choking risk in young children. Toys may not be safe for very young children even if the toy package shows that it is.
  • Regularly check your home for small items that a child can choke on. Look in places where small items may not be clearly visible, such as under furniture. Get down on the floor to look for small items that your child can find and put in his mouth. Keep small objects out of children's reach.
  • Take a first aid or CPR course. These courses can help you be prepared in case of emergency. Ask a healthcare provider for training organizations near you.

Follow up with your child's doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2022 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.

Further information

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