Button Batteries Pose Threat Long After Holidays

The holidays may be over, but a serious threat remains. Button batteries. These tiny power units used to juice countless devices can pose a huge risk, especially to children.

Every year in the United States, more than 3,500 people of all ages swallow button batteries.

Most button batteries pass through the body and are eliminated in the stool. However, sometimes batteries get “hung up,” and these are the ones that cause problems.

A battery that is stuck in the esophagus is especially likely to cause tissue damage. An electrical current can form around the outside of the battery, generating hydroxide (an alkaline chemical), causing a tissue burn. When a battery is swallowed, it is impossible to know whether it will pass through or get “hung up.” [source]

Below are guidelines to follow if battery ingestion is suspected:


National Capital Poison Center Button Battery Ingestion Triage and Treatment Guideline (2018)


Download a text version of this guidance here.