“I swallowed a battery.”

That’s what my 2-year old told me after saying his tummy hurt. Imagine, if you will, nursing your newborn and watching your toddler play with his hot wheels, and then BOOM – in comes talk of batteries and tummies. His Nana and Aunt Sarah had just left our house, so I quickly called them to see if they saw anything. He hadn’t left their sight while they were here. He hadn’t left my sight before or after they left. What if I missed something? We don’t keep button batteries in the house, but there are objects inside that use alkaline batteries. I kept asking what he put in his mouth, and he consistently said a battery. I even held out a hand of batteries and battery shaped items (chapstick, essential oils roller) to try to trip him up. He pointed to the battery every time.

My heart sank while he continued to insist that he swallowed a battery. As I kept prodding him to show me where he found a battery and verify my fears, he kept his story straight and surprisingly consistent. He even pointed to a drawer (higher than his head) that happened to contain a few AA and AAA batteries. That was all the confirmation I needed – it was time to visit the doctor. Luckily, our wonderful Dr. Dibble was able to fit us in. He checked out Preston, who was still acting normal (albeit a bit confused), and advised us to get an abdominal X-Ray just to be safe. So, we rushed to a nearby urgent care for an X-Ray.

During this entire ordeal, my heart was in my stomach and prayer was in my head. I have heard too many stories of children being seriously injured or dying after eating batteries, and I knew the severity of the situation was no joke. I prayed so hard for the safety of my little boy. Thoughts of “what if this..?” or “what if that..?” or “when did he get a battery?” kept streaming through my head. I was trying to trust God, and I did, but I was still very scared. Situations like this remind me how little control I actually have in life and help me to be grateful for God who is always in control.

Luckily, this was just an expensive game of make-believe. The X-Rays were clear!

What if my child eats a battery?

Although my case of an eaten battery was a false flag, not every instance is. It is important to get checked out immediately even if a battery ingestion is suspected. There are many types of batteries. While most cases of swallowed batteries are the small button batteries, it is possible for larger batteries to be ingested as well. According to the Poison Control website, batteries can burn through a child’s esophagus in just 2 hours, and your child may not show any symptoms before the damage has been done.

“If a Battery is Swallowed or Placed in the Ear or Nose

  • Call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 800-498-8666 (or 202-625-3333), immediately. Prompt action is critical. Don’t wait for symptoms to develop. If the battery was swallowed, don’t eat or drink until an x-ray shows the battery is beyond the esophagus. Batteries stuck in the esophagus must be removed as quickly as possible as severe damage can occur in just 2 hours. Batteries in the nose or ear also must be removed immediately to avoid permanent damage.” – Poison Control

Even if a battery is passed the esophagus, take caution and call your doctor. Batteries contain acids and heavy metals. If the battery starts to break down in the stomach, your child can be exposed to all those metals and acids.

Here is a chart from Poison Control to show what they recommend:

 

battery poison control

While I hope no other parent ever has to go through this (or a much more serious and real) situation, please be aware! Batteries are everywhere, in everything it seems. They are in hearing aids, kids toys, remotes, flashlights, watches, and so many household items that we can easily miss one. Even if you think you have them all locked away, still take precautions, and talk to anyone coming in your home or near your kids about safety with batteries and other swallowable items. Kids are naturally curious, and little ones very quickly put items in their mouths without thinking through the consequences. This not-so-fun game today has definitely woken me up to the very real possibilities and dangers in every house.

Stay safe, stay alert, stay strong.

 

Resources to keep handy:

National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 800-498-8666 (or 202-625-3333)

Call POISON CONTROL to speak to an expert: 1-800-222-1222

POISON CONTROL

About the Author

Melissa Steindl

Melissa is a work-from-home mom of two boys. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design from Ouachita Baptist University. Her love for Christ influences her lifestyle and work. She loves family life, cooking, art & design, gardening, DIY projects, and natural living.