What to do if Your Child Swallowed an Object

Any parent will tell you that children do not come with instruction manuals. They are curious, messy and sometimes the only way they learn to not do something, is to do it. That is why so often, 911 dispatchers and pediatricians get that frantic call from a parent that their child has swallowed something. If you are an expecting parent or the parent to a curious child, there are a few steps that need to followed.

1. Make Sure They Aren’t Choking

Sometimes when kids swallow things, it can end up in their stomach or in their windpipe. If the child is coughing, grabbing at their throat or having difficulty breathing, that tiny piece might be caught in their windpipe. Only try to grab the object if you can clearly see it in the throat, otherwise you may push it further into the windpipe. If they are showing that they are choking or are overwhelmed, give them the Heimlich Maneuver. Here are instruction manuals for both babies and children that are choking.

2. Try to Determine What the Object Was

We understand, you turned your back for one second and that is all it took for your child to ingest something they weren’t suppose to. Not only are children curious, they are quick. For younger children, using the mouth as an exploratory instrument is pretty standard. See if there are missing pieces and parts around where the child was playing. If it was toxic, like household chemicals or batteries, call your local poison control center. Seek medical attention for sharp, metallic or unknown objects that the child may have ingested.

3. Speak to Your Doctor about Ultrasound or X-ray

Typically speaking, if a child swallows something like coins or toy pieces, they usually pass them on their own. However, sharp objects can sometimes cause painful tearing or bowel movements. That is why Doctors Imaging recommends having your child undergo proper medical imaging procedures in order to determine the condition of internal organs after foreign-body ingestion.

For most children and their parents, swallowing something unintentionally can be a scary moment. That is why medical imaging procedures can be more difficult. Scared children are commonly difficult to maneuver. However, most doctors will recommend having X-rays performed in order to track the foreign object. Not all objects will show up on an xray. Ultrasounds are easier to perform because they do not require the child to be separated from parents and does not expose them to radiation. However, X-rays are really the only fool-proof method available to track a swallowed object if it has material that is visible and even if not visible may show some changes in the airway or in the lungs; and if in the digestive system, may help to make sure it does as little damage as possible on it’s way out of the body. For those parents concerned about radiation exposure, some imaging facilities such as Doctors Imaging in Metairie, now utilize digital X-rays which use the least possible radiation and provide even clearer images.

If you have more questions about digital X-rays, please visit our X-ray Services Page or call a representative at Doctors Imaging in Metairie at 504-883-8111.

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