Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorSo what do you do when you have a young child show up in the emergency room with vague throat or belly pain, flu-like symptoms — nothing too specific. But something just isn’t right.

One of the first things we may do is shoot an X-ray. Specifically to look for a button battery.

These nice, little, shiny coin-like structures love finding their way into the ears, noses, and — worst of all — foodpipes of young children. And a report in the journal Pediatrics says the rate of these attractive little disks winding up in the mouth… and then way down the pipes of a kid have more than doubled in the last 20 years.

And that scares us to death. Two reasons: it can be hard to diagnose, and a little button battery (with corrosive chemicals and acids) can burn a hole through the esophagus or intestines in less than two hours.

The reason for the rise is simple. These batteries are everywhere. Greeting cards, games, remote controls, cameras, etc., etc., etc. And if a child decides to chomp one down, you’ve got a major problem on your hands and you may not even know why.

That’s why it’s vital to make sure your toddler can’t get into something with a button battery, and making sure that if you store extras in the house, treat them like you would battery acid or drain cleaner — up and locked away from the probing hands … and mouth of a child.

One final note: If you do see you kid gulp one down, remember it’s not like a coin. Don’t wait for it to pass. It will burn a big hole in an important body part before it does.

Head to the ER.


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