Q:

What do I do if my kid swallowed a penny?

A:

Quick Answer

If a child swallows a penny, he must see a pediatrician or visit an emergency room immediately, says Doctor Charles Howell, pediatric surgeon at MCG Children's Hospital, in Augusta, Georgia. In some cases, objects pass safely through the stomach and gastrointestinal system, but it's best not to wait and see.

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Full Answer

Some pennies contain highly corrosive additives that can irritate or damage the esophagus. An x-ray is the only way to determine if the penny is stuck. If an object such as a penny or a small battery, which can also cause corrosive damage, gets stuck in the esophagus, it must be removed.

For items other than coins, batteries and other harmful objects, call the child's pediatrician right away, advises Dr. Howell. Objects generally pass through the body's system within 24 to 48 hours, so a pediatrician often asks that the stools be closely monitored for a day or two. If the object does not pass through, go directly to the emergency room or call the child's pediatrician again.

Parents Magazine warns against putting fingers inside the child's mouth to try to remove the object. This action can cause the object to get pushed further down into the throat and more difficult to remove.

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