Button batteries are extremely hazardous when swallowed, and if your child ends up ingesting one, you should call 9-1-1 immediately. But, while you’re waiting for the paramedics or heading to the hospital, there’s something else you can do.
Button batteries, those tiny disc-like batteries found in remote controls and other electronic items, can corrode the esophagus and other internal structures, causing serious tissue damage and even lead to death. When swallowed, a chemical reaction sets them into motion. When patients come in for emergency removal of these batteries, doctors use an ulcer medication called "sucralfate" to protect the body's insides while the battery is still in there. This helpful trick will allow you to do something similar in the meantime if it ever happens to your child.
A recent study found that honey can be used to minimize injury to the esophagus after swallowing a button battery. While you’re waiting for medical treatment, give your child honey in intervals. Give as much as you can, as there’s no need to worry about overdoing it.
There were a few cautions noted in the study. Infants under one year of age should not be fed honey, and nor should anyone with esophageal perforation. It would be reasonable to inform emergency personnel whether they’d recommend giving honey depending on the specifics of your situation. It is important as well to discuss this potential treatment with your pediatrician preemptively, to find out how you can best help your child should this situation arise.
Obviously, prevention is the first step in avoiding this emergency situation. Remote controls and any other items with button batteries should be stored out of reach of young children. Remotes seem to always be laying around, but parents would be wise to choose a high shelf and build the habit of automatically returning the remote to that shelf when they are done watching TV. Spare batteries should also be stored out of reach, and used batteries should be disposed of and removed from the home immediately. Supervise young children at all times, and if you even suspect they might have swallowed a button battery, call right away. If it does happen, getting it removed as soon as possible is vital.
Remember to always keep honey on your shopping list!