Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

First Aid & Emergencies

Font Size

Swallowed or Inhaled Objects - Topic Overview

When you swallow food, liquid, or an object, what is swallowed passes from your mouth through your throat and esophagus camera.gif into your stomach. A swallowed object will usually pass through the rest of your digestive tract camera.gif without problems and show up in your stool in a few days. If food or a nonfood item gets stuck along the way, a problem may develop that will require a visit to a doctor.

Sometimes when you try to swallow, the swallowed substance "goes down the wrong way" and gets inhaled into your windpipe or lungs (aspirated). This occurs most often in children who are younger than 3 years and in adults who are older than age 50. When you inhale a substance, coughing is a normal reaction of the body to clear the throat and windpipe. The cough is helpful and may clear up the problem. Inhaling a substance into your lungs can cause a lung inflammation and infection (aspiration pneumonia).

The situation may be more serious when:

  • Signs of choking (complete airway obstruction) are present. When the windpipe is blocked, air cannot move in and out of the lungs and the person cannot talk, cry, breathe, or cough. A blocked windpipe is a life-threatening emergency.
  • Signs of a partially blocked windpipe are present. When the windpipe is partially blocked, some air can still move in and out of the lungs. The person may gag, cough, or have trouble breathing. Coughing will often pop out the food or object and relieve the symptoms. The choking rescue procedure is not recommended when the windpipe is partially blocked.
  • An object is stuck in the esophagus.
  • A poisonous object has been swallowed, such as a wild mushroom, a plant, or a chemical. For more information, see the topic Poisoning.
  • A button disc battery, magnet, or object with lead has been swallowed.
  • A swallowed object doesn't show up in the stool within 7 days.
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Antibiotic on hand
    3d scan of fractured skull
    Father putting ointment on boy's face
    Person taking food from oven
    sniffling child
    wound care true or false
    caring for wounds
    Harvest mite

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    WebMD the app

    Get first aid information. Whenever. Wherever... with your iPhone, iPad or Android.

    Find Out More