But a foreign object may become stuck in the esophagus (food tube) or trachea (windpipe). In that case, your child needs prompt medical care.
When to go to the Emergency Department (ED):
Contact your child’s doctor if you think your child has swallowed a nonfood object. Do not try to remove the object yourself. This may cause more harm.
Seek emergency help if your child:
- Has trouble breathing, speaking, or swallowing
- Is spitting up saliva or is vomiting
- Has chest pain, stomach pain, or pain when swallowing
What to expect in the ED:
What is the treatment:
Treatment will depend on the type of object and where it is located. Your doctor may suggest one of the following measures:
- Watchful waiting: A smooth object that has not gotten stuck may pass on its own in 24 hours
- Removal with esophagoscopy: To remove an object and check for any damage, an esophagoscope (a lighted, telescope-like tube) may be used. The instrument is pushed down into the esophagus through the mouth. Your child will be given medication so he/she sleeps through the procedure.
What is the follow-up:
Call your child’s doctor or return to the ED if your child:
- Is nauseated or vomits
- Has stomach pain or bloody stools
Last updated: July 2013, January 2016