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What You Need to Know About Kids and Button Batteries

December 17, 2019

If you think your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. The information provided here is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, it is for informational purposes only.

Letting your child play with the TV remote might seem harmless, but the button battery inside is actually very dangerous if swallowed. These batteries are about the size of a nickel and are also found in toys and signing cards. Once swallowed, the battery can become logged in the child’s throat. The saliva creates an electrical current, which causes a chemical reaction that can burn the esophagus in a few hours. About 3,000 kids swallow button batteries a year.

If you think your child has swallowed a button battery, take them to their doctor or nearest emergency department immediately!

Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Drooling
  • Pain in chest or passageway
  • Throat pain

If your child has any of these symptoms and you think they’ve swallowed a button battery, a visit to your doctor or local ER is vital. Injury can occur in three to four hours. According to, it may not be obvious at first that something is wrong since your child is breathing and playing like normal. You might think they just have a cold or flu.

Dr. Gresham Richter is the chief of pediatric otolaryngology (ENT) at Arkansas Children’s. He has a simple message for parents and guardians when it comes to keeping kids safe around button batteries. Watch the video below to learn more:

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