Most households have something with tiny button batteries inside. Toys, hearing aids and musical greeting cards are common items powered by button batteries. As small as a centimeter, these batteries are a significant hazard—especially for young children who may put them in their mouth, nose or ears. Among adults, elderly individuals may accidently swallow a hearing aid battery when distracted or confused.
Button batteries can cause internal burns if ingested or inserted in the nose or ears. When ingested, these batteries can become lodged in the esophagus, causing a life-threatening medical emergency. Anyone choking or in respiratory distress from swallowing a button battery requires immediate medical assistance. Call 911 right away.
Small in size, from less than 12 millimeters to larger than 20 millimeters, button batteries are an easy target for children. Be aware that children may ingest or insert button batteries in various orifices. Burns can develop within two hours of exposure. Burns are thought to be caused by:
Watch for these symptoms of a button battery lodged in the esophagus:
If a toddler unknowingly swallows a button battery, the symptoms may be mistaken for the common cold.
It’s less common for children to stick a button battery up their nose or in their ear. But doing so can cause damage. A battery that gets stuck in their clothing and presses against the skin can also cause damage.
Honey can prevent or delay the development of esophageal burns.
IPC is here to help. Call IPC immediately at 1-800-222-1222 if you suspect a child or adult has been exposed to button batteries. Calls are free and confidential. IPC toxicology experts are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also contact the National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 1-800-498-8666.