Every year in the United States, more than 3,500 people of all ages swallow button batteries. These are used to power hearing aids, watches, toys, games, flashing jewelry, singing greeting cards, remote control devices, and many other items. CALL 800-498-8666 or CALL COLLECT 202 625 3333 for guidance if someone swallows a battery.
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) and causing a tissue burn. When a battery is swallowed, it is impossible to know whether it will pass through or get “hung up”.