Battery ingestion

Battery ingestion might not trigger any evident symptoms initially. The small-sized disc batteries utilized in electronic gadgets and toys might contain heavy metals such as mercury, zinc, silver, cadmium, nickel and lithium. They also include concentrated solutions of caustic electrolytes, usually sodium or potassium hydroxide.

The danger of these batteries is when children and sometimes adults knowingly or accidentally place these small batteries in their mouths and swallow them.

What are the signs of battery ingestion?

Remember that the signs of battery ingestion might not be evident until detrimental conditions manifest. The medical history and an X-ray is vital in coming up with a diagnosis.

An individual who has ingested a disc battery might have one or several symptoms such as:

  • Vomiting

    Battery ingestion
    Difficulty breathing if the battery blocks the airway.
  • Abdominal pain
  • Gagging or retching
  • Low-grade fever
  • Continuous drooling
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty breathing if the battery blocks the airway
  • Dark-colored or blood-streaked stools
  • Skin rashes

Self-care measures

If an individual swallowed a disc battery, the initial measure is not to provide anything orally and bring the individual to the nearest emergency department. If possible, bring along a sample of the battery that was ingested.

Take note that all disc batteries have an imprinted code that can be utilized to pinpoint the manufacturer, actual size of the battery and its contents. In case a battery could not be found, bring along the device from which the battery was used.

It is vital to avoid medications such as ipecac which promotes vomiting. Take note that batteries that were able to safely pass into the stomach can be forced back into the esophagus.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on battery ingestion is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the signs by taking a standard first aid course with Mississauga First Aid.

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