The next time you see a button lying around on the floor or a fridge magnet on the lower half of your fridge, beware. These are potentially dangerous items that are health hazards to our children.
Many common household items are dangerous, simply because of their size. Young children somehow love to explore these objects. They put them in their mouth, ears, nose etc. Therein lies the danger. Any foreign object that lodges in the nose may drop down the back of the nose and lodge in the windpipe, causing airway obstruction. The child cannot breathe and this may be fatal.
Objects in the ears are a potential source of infection, especially if they are organic in nature, such as food particles, beans etc. They may also cause hearing loss due to the blockage of sound traveling into the ear.
Objects in the mouth may be swallowed into the food pipe. If they are small enough they will pass through the digestive system. However, if they are large (such as coins) they will end up getting stuck in the food pipe. The child will need surgery to remove it!
Sometimes objects in the mouth are too large to enter the food pipe. These may end up being inhaled and they may also cause airway obstruction and death.
In summary, keep a close watch on your children. Keep all small objects out of their reach. Toys should be inspected regularly for damaged parts which may drop off during play. They tend to grow out of this phase of putting objects in their mouth, nose and ears but every child is different. I have seen children as old as 10 years put things in their ears!
(This article is Part 1 of a 4-part series about foreign bodies, contributed by my wife who sees people with Ear, Nose and Throat issues)