Foreign Bodies in Children: What To Do

In this final article about Foreign Bodies in Children, we discuss what you can do when your child has a foreign body stuck in one of his/her orifices.

What to do when your child may have swallowed an foreign body or placed a foreign body in their mouth:

  1. Stay calm. Do not shout or move the child suddenly as they may accidentally swallow it.
  2. Ask the child to remove the foreign body from their mouth (if possible). Do not forcefully pry their mouth open as you may end up pushing it further in.
  3. If the foreign body is nowhere to be found, bring the child to see a doctor. Do not fish around. Often an X-ray is necessary to locate it.
  4. If the child appears breathless, bring him/her to the Children’s Emergency straightaway.
  5. If the child has swallowed a button battery, bring him/her to the Children’s Emergency straightaway.

What do do if you child has swallowed a (fish) bone:

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Do not eat rice/banana/drink vinegar because this may make the bone migrate further.
  3. Seek medical attention immediately – if the family doctor sees the bone in the tonsils, they can remove it. However if the bone is not there, they usually refer the patient to the Children’s Emergency.
  4. If your child is unable to swallow anything further, is drooling, or if they can swallow but food keeps regurgitating upwards, these are signs that there is something blocking the food pipe, and urgent medical attention is required.
  5. If your child has chest pain or fever, these are warning signs that there is surrounding infection. This is a potential emergency, therefore proceed to the Children’s Emergency as soon as possible.


What to do if your child has a foreign body in the ear or nose:

  1. Do not try to take it out unless you are certain you can reach it. Otherwise you push it further in.
  2. If its an organic material foreign body (e.g. corn seed), do not use water to flush it out as it may expand and cause more pain.
  3. Bring the child to see a doctor – to confirm location of the foreign body. The doctor may attempt removal then.
  4. Sometimes, removal under sedation or general anesthesia is necessary.



(This article is Part 4 of a 4-part series about foreign bodies, contributed by my wife who sees people with Ear, Nose and Throat issues.


Part 1 – Foreign Bodies in Children: Why They Can Be Lethal

Part 2 – Foreign Bodies in Children: The Most Common Culprits and Why Button Batteries Are The Child’s Worst Enemy

Part 3 – Foreign Bodies in Children: Warning Signs)





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