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Specialists are warning of a possible upsurge of Button Battery ingestion over the Christmas period. These Litium based batteries are used in portable electronic devices, such as watches, camcorders, digital cameras, thermometers, calculators, communication equipment and remote car locks. They usually have a CR number printed on one side: the first part of the number refers to the diameter and the second part the thickness, and it's the bigger batteries, greater than 15mm that are potential sources of concern. If they stick in the oesophagus - the tube through which food travels from the mouth to reach the stomach - then it can cause a potentially fatal perforation.
In children under 4 who have smaller diameter oesophagi, then the chances of this happening are significantly greater. So if you know your little one has swallowed a button battery, take them straight to the emergency department. The chances of death are rare: in one study only 15 deaths were reported out of 56,535 "reported ingestions", but no one wants their child to be one of the 15!
The other group of people who tend to swallow these small button batteries are the old folk. That's when they're changing the batteries in their hearing aids and oops, down she goes! In this group the battery can get stuck in the lower part of the bowel, so it is important to make sure that it does pass through by checking the bowel motion. If there is any concern then it is important to check with your Physician who will order some Xrays.