Swallowed Objects

  • Reference Number: HEY-855/2016
  • Departments: Emergency Department


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your child’s condition.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet . It is not intended to replace the discussion between your child’s doctor and you, but may act as a starting point for discussion.  If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team caring for your child.

Swallowed Objects

Nearly all swallowed objects will pass through the digestive system without causing any harm, including those with sharp edges.

The narrowest part of the digestive system is the point at which the oesophagus (gullet) narrows and joins the stomach.  Once a swallowed object has passed this point, it is very unlikely to cause any problems.  It probably will not even be noticed when it is passed in the stool (poo).

What should I do?

Return to hospital if your child develops any vomiting, abdominal pain or bleeding from the rectum (bottom).  This is very unlikely.

What should you not do

Do not search through your child’s stool (poo).

Do not give your child laxatives, unless they are already prescribed them by a doctor.

For the future:

Children often explore objects by putting them in their mouths.  Please ensure that you keep any small objects away from children and supervise them closely.

Button batteries (the type used in watches and hearing aids) and magnets can be particularly dangerous.

If your child swallows another object, please attend the Emergency Department or call NHS 111.

If you have any concerns or require further advice please contact the

Paediatric Emergency Department on:

Tel: (01482) 482108, 8am-2am; Tel: (01482) 482251, 2am-8am

Or contact:  NHS 111