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First aid for button battery ingestion

27 Nov, 2023
Baby | Parenting | Toddler

Did you know on average around 20 children per week present to an emergency department throughout Australia on the suspicion of having swallowed a button battery?

Button batteries are the small flat little batteries that are found in quite a few common household appliances and other products, like watches, hearing aids, thermometers, calculators and even kids toys as well as clothing that flashes or makes noise. These all contain button batteries.

if you’re not aware of the dangers of button batteries let me fill you in. Button Batteries are small, shiny and the perfect size for kids to pop in their mouth, up their nose or in the ear.

As a parent of a young child, you’ll know all too well how hard it is to try and keep things out of your young child’s mouth. Button batteries are no exception. They are really appealing to little kids and they’re quite commonly popped in in their mouth and even swallowed.

Unfortunately, when button batteries do come in contact with moisture they start a chemical reaction that causes them to start to corrode. This corrosion can cause burns in tissues in our body in as little as two hours.

So if you’re in a situation where you even suspect your child has swallowed a button battery, you may not be 100% sure but if you have any suspicion that your child has swallowed a button battery, please head straight to your local emergency department and get them checked out immediately!

Button batteries are really, really dangerous. If we don’t know our child has swallowed a button battery the first signs that may become evident are generally pretty nonspecific – they might start to get a little bit of tummy pain or they might be off their food a little bit.

It’s not until they start to vomit up blood or they start to have blood passing out of their bottom when they do a poo that we actually then discover what’s going on – at this point your child will be quite unwell.

So, I can’t stress enough the importance if you do have button batteries in your homes, that you know exactly what appliances they are in and make sure that anything that has batteries, the backings of watches, the backings of toys are all in good condition and are all sealed well. And any spare button batteries are kept up high, well out of reach of little hands.

Again, I urge you if you even suspect that your child has swallowed a button battery please get them checked at your local emergency department!

Button Batteries and Honey. You may have seen information about the effects of honey on reducing the corrosion of button batteries.

The Parentmedic team has consulted with the director at the Poisons Information Hotline. The poisons information hotline is the ‘go to’ when it comes to all things poisons. Medical staff, paramedics and nurses consult with Poisons Information if we have a suspected poisons ingestion.

Button Batteries are considered a Poison. The Poisons Information Line has confirmed that for parents honey should not be a first line of treatment for button battery ingestion.

Yes, there is some indication that honey may reduce the amount of corrosion, or slow down the corrosion time, but it should not delay seeking medical attention first.

Therefore your first port of call should be to present to your local emergency department and then the course of treatment will be decided by the medical team.

As a parent with a child with a potential button battery ingestion, please do not give your child anything to eat or drink, do not try and make them vomit, get them to your local emergency department.

You can find out more about button battery ingestion, first aid and honey here.

Article and video supplied by ParentMedic

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