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Swallowed Object Treatment

Call 911 if:

  • The airway is blocked or partially blocked
  • The person cannot breathe or talk

  • The airway is blocked or partially blocked
  • The person cannot breathe or talk

1. If Airway Is Blocked

2. If Airway Is Partially Blocked

  • Encourage the person to cough to dislodge swallowed object.
  • Do not perform Heimlich maneuver, thump the back, or attempt to remove object.

3. When to See a Doctor

See a doctor immediately if:

  • The person has swallowed a battery. See Battery Ingestion Treatment.
  • The person may have swallowed something poisonous. See Poisoning Treatment.
  • The person swallowed a sharp object or something metal.
  • The object may be stuck in the esophagus.
  • The person is coughing, wheezing, or vomiting.

4. Follow Up

If you see a doctor, follow-up will depend on the type and location of the swallowed object and severity of symptoms.

  • The doctor may order X-rays to locate the object in the body.
  • The doctor may try to remove it.
  • In most cases, swallowed objects pass through the system without causing injury or requiring surgery.

If you do not see a doctor after an object is swallowed or if your doctor asks you to:

  • Check stools for the object.
  • Call doctor if the object doesn't show up in stools within seven days.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on January 05, 2014

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