While every single small object (and large object with breakable/detachable small bits) has the potential to become a foreign body in a child ear, nose or throat, there are some common items that are frequently seen in children who come to the emergency department.
These common objects include:
- hair clips,
- batteries (especially button batteries),
- tissue paper,
- cotton wool,
- rubber bands,
- pencil lead,
- small erasers,
- Lego pieces,
- sequins from clothes
Coins are great for training fine motor and hand-eye coordination but be really careful with them!
Some stranger things I have encountered: rubber piece that is found on the tip of metal hangers, ear phone tips and red beans!
I wish to elaborate more on button batteries. These are absolutely the worst things to let a child play with. They cause serious damage to any orifice they are placed into. Once in contact with a moist environment, the battery fluid leaks out and severe corrosion occurs, damaging the lining of the human tissue it is in contact with.
For example, if inserted into the nose, it can burn a hole straight through the child’s nose septum (the firm piece of tissue in the nose separating the two nostrils). As a result, the poor child will need multiple surgeries to clean the nose. If the damage to the septum is severe the nose may collapse from lack of support. If the button battery is swallowed, it can burn a hole through the child’s food pipe!
In summary, if you suspect your child has a button battery foreign body, bring him to the emergency immediately. There is no time to lose.
(This article is Part 2 of a 4-part series about foreign bodies, contributed by my wife who sees people with Ear, Nose and Throat issues.