It is very common that babies put anything in their mouths that comes in contact. Many times they accidentally swallow the object. In such a scenario, parents get confused about whether they should contact the doctor or try home remedies first. Also, confusion continues that which doctor or specialist to be consulted.
It is important to know that time is very crucial in such cases. Foreign objects can be removed from food pipes or the stomach with simple endoscopy without major risk. Normally stomach gets emptied in 4- 6 hours and if more time is wasted in reaching the hospital the object can pass more distally into the small intestine. Endoscopic removal from the small intestine becomes more difficult.
Whom to contact in such cases?
Many times I find that parents bring the baby who has swallowed a foreign object after 3-4 hours of swallowing. Initially, they go to a child specialist or nearby available doctor and later on, they are directed to meet a gastroenterologist. In such cases, a gastroenterologist who is specialized in removing such objects should be contacted. Also, all the advanced endoscopes and equipment should be available. We at the noble hospital have a specialized team of gastroenterologists and anesthetists to handle such cases.
What foreign objects need removal urgently?
Many simple objects like- small coins, marbles, shirt buttons etc can pass digestive tract easily and get excreted in stools. But larger objects can get stuck. Any foreign body stuck in the food pipe should be removed immediately. If stuck in a food pipe, the child will complain of something stuck in the throat or chest, vomiting immediately after swallowing, or excessive salivation. Some foreign bodies like button batteries, sharp objects (needles, sharp pencils, pins etc) must be removed urgently. Especially button batteries which contains acid and can erode and puncture digestive tract hence should be removed urgently.
Which doctor or specialist is to be contacted?
It is observed that in many cases, time is wasted as parents don’t know where to go and which specialist to be contacted. A center equipped with advanced endoscopes and instruments designed especially for children along with round-the-clock availability of gastroenterologists is needed to handle such cases. We at Noble Hospital have a specialized team and advanced instruments to remove almost all kinds of foreign bodies.
Can we wait and watch or try home remedies first (like eating bananas or laxatives)?
We can just wait and watch for simple, harmless objects like small coins, small marbles, etc once they pass to the stomach however if stuck in a food pipe (esophagus) they should be removed endoscopically. Also, no home remedies should be tried for sharp objects and button batteries.
Not only children but sometimes even adults swallow things accidentally. Food bolus getting impacted in food pipes is also common in older people. With the availability of endoscopes, foreign body removal has become easy job.