Swallowed Object Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on February 08, 2022

Call 911 if:

  • 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:

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.

Show Sources


Family Doctor: "Shortness of Breath in Child or Infant."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Responding to a Choking Emergency."

American College of Emergency Physicians Foundation: "About Emergencies."

KidsHealth: "First Aid: Choking."

Cigna Health Information: "Swallowed Objects."

American Family Physician: "What to Do if Your Child Swallows Something."

eMedicineHealth: “Swallowed Object.”

© 2022 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info