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What to do if you swallow a battery

If anyone ingests a battery, this is what you should do:

  • Immediately call the 24-hour National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333.
  • If readily available, provide the battery identification number, found on the package or from a matching battery.
  • In most cases, an x-ray must be obtained right away to be sure that the battery has gone through the esophagus into the stomach. (If the battery remains in the esophagus, it must be removed immediately. Most batteries move on to the stomach and can be allowed to pass by themselves.) Based on the age of the patient and size of the battery, the National Battery Ingestion Hotline specialists can help you determine if an immediate x-ray is required.
  • Don't induce vomiting. Don't eat or drink until the x-ray shows the battery is beyond the esophagus.
  • Watch for fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, or blood in the stools. Report these symptoms immediately.
  • Check the stools until the battery has passed.

Your physician or the emergency room may call the National Button Battery Ingestion Hotline at the National Capital Poison Center (202-625-3333) for consultation about button batteries. Expert advice is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.