Button batteries found in remote controls, toys and other electronic devices are a severe and little known risk to children.
Doctor Kin Lee from the Wishing Well Clinic said that children under the age of five are most at risk.
“Button batteries present a problem when swallowed or inserted in an ear or nose,” said Doctor Lee. “Damage occurs when the battery charge generates a chemical reaction that erodes whatever it comes into contact with in the body.”
It is vital to detect a swallowed button battery as soon as possible – otherwise it can be fatal.
Symptoms of swallowing a button battery may include: chest pain, coughing, nausea/vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever, or refusing to eat hard food.
“Unfortunately, symptoms can also mimic a common cold along with vomiting, drooling and a cough,” said Doctor Lee.
If parents believe their child has swallowed a button battery, they must call the 24 hour Poisons Information Centre immediately on 13 11 26 for fast expert advice. Do not give any food or water.
“An estimated 20 children per week in Australia present to an emergency department with a swallowed button battery injury,” said Doctor Lee.
Keep kids safe. Do not leave new or flat batteries within reach of children. Check devices and toys to ensure young children cannot remove the batteries.