Battery Ingestion (cont.)
Battery Ingestion Symptoms
Battery ingestion may not be obvious or symptomatic until harmful conditions develop. Thus, medical history and X-ray findings become exceedingly important for diagnosis.
The person who has swallowed a disk battery may have one or more symptoms.
Although mercury-containing cells tend to fragment, no clinical cases of mercury poisoning have been reported. Signs of mercury poisoning are lethargy, excitement, rash in the perineal/diaper region, or tremors.
When to Seek Medical Care for Battery Ingestion
Battery ingestion is a medical emergency. Proceed to the nearest hospital emergency department.
Battery Ingestion Facts
- Radiographic studies of the entire digestive system may be taken. Disk batteries have a characteristic double-density (two-layer) shadow on X-rays. Laterally, their edges are rounded, and they contain a step-off junction at the positive and negative terminal. This can help distinguish them from coins and buttons.
- If a battery is located in the esophagus (food pipe), immediate removal is necessary.
Battery Ingestion Self-Care at Home
The most prudent home treatment for someone who has swallowed a disk battery is to give nothing by mouth and to go to the nearest hospital emergency department. If it will not delay going to the emergency department, bring a sample of the battery ingested. All disk batteries contain an imprinted code that can be used to identify manufacturer, the battery's actual size, and its contents.
- If no battery can be found, then bring the device from which the battery was removed.
- The National Button Battery Ingestion Hotline (202) 625-3333 may be consulted for battery identification and emergency instructions.
- Although antacids helped to prevent disk batteries from leaking in animal models, the dosage required in children would be too much. Avoid medicines like ipecac, which promote vomiting. Batteries that have safely passed into the stomach can be forced back into the esophagus.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/1/2016
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