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Choking and Swallowing Foreign Objects

Updated on November 7, 2008

If your child has choked on an object and then suddenly gets better but the object has not appeared, suspect that it might have been lodged somewhere in the air passages or esophagus (food tube). The child may or may not have symptoms of difficulty in swallowing, no pain in the neck, no wheezing, or drooling, or trouble breathing. If^the child can swallow water and eat bread without discomfort, then the esophagus is probably not blocked. However, if any of the above symptoms develop or if the original choking was severe, seek prompt medical attention.

Smooth swallowed objects such as coins, beads, or marbles will cause little difficulty once they pass into the stomach. They almost always will pass through the intesĀ­tine and will appear in the stool within two or three days. Check the stools until the object has passed. Pull tabs from aluminum cans are recent additions to the lists of objects-especially prone to lodge in the esophagus. They are also hard to see on X ray.

If you don't find anything in the stool within three to five days, your physician should be notified. Symptoms to look for are abdominal pain, vomiting, or bloody stools. If none of these is present, you safely wait for the object to pass.

On the other hand, swallowing sharp, irregular, or jagged objects such as pins and pieces of glass is cause for immediate concern. Contact your physician promptly. Be particularly alert for difficulty in swallowing and drooling. This symptom means that the objects may have lodged itself in the back of the throat or in the esophagus. This requires prompt medical attention.

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