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Keep button batteries away from toddlers

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Keep button batteries away from toddlers

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, every year thousands of children are seen in hospital emergency departments because of a button battery. Children often swallow or shove these small, shiny lithium coin batteries into their ear or nose. Unfortunately, these tiny, appealing objects can cause major injury and even death if not taken care of immediately.

Button battery dangers to children

Button batteries that come into contact with fluids generate a current that produces small amounts of sodium hydroxide, more commonly called lye. Lye can burn a hole in the spot where the battery is stuck in the body. That hole can then cause an infection, which can lead to serious injury, illness, long-term disability or even death. Check out this news article and video from CBS4 Denver News. 

Signs of button battery emergency in children

Symptoms that your child may have swallowed a battery can be similar to infection, so it can make it challenging to medical providers to identify what is going on. Especially if parents or caregivers have not seen the child with a battery. If your child has signs like wheezing, drooling, belly or chest pain, coughing, gagging, or choking, take them to the emergency department immediately. ​

When a button battery is stuck in the nose or ear, drainage or pain are common signs. Damage to the eardrum and nasal septum from the lye burns can cause permanent breathing, smell and hearing disabilities.

When a coin battery is lodged in the throat, the lye rapidly burns it. Damage to the esophagus, windpipe, lungs and large blood vessels create an immediate, life-threatening emergency, or even a lifelong disability.

Items that use button batteries

Button batteries and lithium coin batteries are the small round batteries found in small electronics and common household items including:

  • Calculators
  • Cameras
  • Cell phones
  • Flameless candles
  • Flashing shoes and clothing
  • Games and toys
  • Hearing aids
  • Holiday ornaments
  • Jewelry and watches
  • Musical greeting cards
  • Remote controls
  • Scales
  • Thermometers
  • Vehicle key fobs

Never assume that a battery-powered product in your home is safe for use by children. Make sure that the battery compartments of all electronic items are secure and taped shut. And, when you need to replace a coin battery, make sure to safely dispose of it by wrapping it in tape and promptly recycling or putting it into the garbage outside.

If you suspect that your child has ingested a button battery, take them to the emergency department as soon as possible.

Learn more about the pediatric services available in Gillette, Wyoming at

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  • Category: Campbell County Medical Group Family Medicine, Campbell County Medical Group Kid Clinic, Campbell County Medical Group Pediatrics, Campbell County Medical Group Walk-In Clinic & Occupational Health, Campbell County Medical Group Wright Clinic & Occupational Health, Emergency Department, Emergency Medical Services, SafeKids Campbell County, Simple Safety