Foreign Body Ingestion in Children

Foreign body ingestion in children is a frequent cause of emergency care.

It is important that we initially observe whether the child is breathing or not, or at least if there is air passage to the airway.

The ingestion of foreign leather is a real emergency when there is obstruction of the airway.

In addition to being a frequent accident in pediatric age, it is even the second cause of indication for urgent endoscopy in pediatrics.

A large part of these are eliminated through feces, up to 80%, although their elimination goes unnoticed by parents in up to 60% of cases.

Most children go to the emergency room in the first 36 hours and approximately half are asymptomatic, with coins being the most frequently ingested foreign object.

What Happens With the Ingestion of a Foreign Body?

The risk depends greatly on the type of foreign body that has been ingested, the location at the time of consultation, the shape, size and composition.

If it is a coin or something circular, if it is needles or sharp objects, batteries or magnets, what increases the risk?

We will address the ingestion of caustics in another blog, but it is an important cause of injury, batteries and magnets are objects that require urgent handling, prevention is important in these.

The intake of medications is also so widespread that we will discuss it in another blog, but it always poses a significant risk, mainly narcotics, which have seen an increase in intake in adolescents for transportation purposes.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

The most frequent thing when they present discomfort is pain and excessive salivation when it lodges in the esophagus, or there may be a sound or whistling when breathing when it is in the airway and even cough.

When Should I Suspect Foreign Body Ingestion if We Did Not Realize It?

If my child suddenly has shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, if he has sudden changes in color on his lips, a cough that does not improve and a fever develops, if there is wheezing when breathing, when there is constant drooling, pain when passing food that you don't want to eat, chest pain or even vomiting that can sometimes be bloody.

In cases where there are no symptoms, close monitoring by your trusted pediatrician or pediatric surgeon will be important.

What is the Treatment for Foreign Body Ingestion?

To decide the appropriate treatment, there are several factors, such as the type of foreign object, the presence of anatomical alterations, the time since ingestion and the location of the foreign body.

The most common way, when possible, is extraction through endoscopy since it allows the object to be identified, and whether or not there is an injury at the site where the foreign body is located.

Your pediatrician will know what to do depending on the object that has been ingested, from requesting an appropriate x-ray, and subsequently sending it to your trusted pediatric surgeon or endoscopist in order to determine if it warrants extraction or even in some cases monitoring and control through x-rays.

One of the objects that causes the most concern for us doctors and should cause the most concern for parents is the ingestion of lithium button batteries, which are increasingly common and can cause very serious consequences since they can sometimes go unnoticed. The intake.

What is recommended as Prevention?

The first thing is to keep any object that can be ingested out of the reach of children.

Make sure you have items containing small objects that could be swallowed out of the reach of children in a safe place and properly closed.

Take special care in children under 6 years of age, which is the period of greatest risk for foreign body ingestion.

Remember that, as in the vast majority of cases, prevention is the best medicine.

Do not hesitate to go to your trusted doctor if you have any doubt about the ingestion of a foreign body, time and timely diagnoses are our main ally.