You must have heard about at least one kid that ingested a battery in your lifetime. It is more common to swallow a battery for kids than in adults. However, a AA battery would be too big for a 3-year old toddler. They might swallow button batteries or a standard AAA battery.
SO, can you really ingest and ‘digest’ a battery? What happens if you swallow a AA battery? How harmful would it be if you swallowed a battery? Can battery ingestion lead you to death?
Well, some cases tell us battery ingestion is harmful. Whether a kid or an adult, swallowed battery can cause damage to your internal organs. It can damage the cells and may cause an emergency. Therefore, you might have to go to the hospital if it gets stuck on your esophagus.
But you can’t be sure when a child swallows a battery. There are some symptoms that tell you about it. Read through the article to know about what can happen when you swallow a battery and what you should do to prevent any damage afterward.
What Happens If You Swallow a AA Battery?
Swallowing a AA battery is risky. It can block your food tube and the airway. There will be certain symptoms when you swallow a AA battery. There are many types of AA batteries. Therefore, when you consume it, you will end up having some common symptoms. The most common traits of battery ingestion are as below-
- Stomach ache
- Constant salivating
- Light fever
- Coughing or suffocating if the battery blocks the air passage
- Allergic reaction from the metal
- Noticeable change in stool color
In a recent case in November 2020, a prisoner in Italy intentionally ingested a battery. When the doctors scanned him, the ECG (electrocardiogram) showed a heart attack reading. In the previous cases, multiple batteries gave a similar reading. Now, the doctors have proof that a single battery can have the same effect on your body by interfering with your stomach acid. However, he did not have other heart attack symptoms.
What Happens When a Child Swallows a Battery?
Babies habitually put anything in their mouth without bothering about whether it is dangerous or not. Children under 5 are especially curious to explore their senses and taste bud with different things. The same goes for the batteries. A AA battery might be too big to swallow for a baby. But they can easily gulp down A27 or smaller batteries. Whether it is a AA battery or equivalents of A27, all the types are toxic for the little human body.
When a child swallows a battery, the first possibility is that it can get stuck into the esophagus of your child. The esophagus is the food tube through which food and water reach the stomach. Babies naturally have a narrower food tube than us, adults. As a symptom of battery ingestion, the baby may be slavering, or bubbles of its saliva might come out of the mouth.
Now, the situation is crucial here. Volts from the AA battery or a button battery will burn the entire gastrointestinal tube. It will lead to severe damage if you can not promptly take your kid to the hospital emergency. Even an hour late could be life-threatening. But if it gets through the food tube and reaches the stomach, strong stomach acid can break the battery’s outer shell. And the kid may get sick, and you may notice some toxic reactions. However, the primary signs you may notice is like the following-
- Trouble swallowing food or water
- Chest pain
- Stomach pain
- Diarrhea when it gets worse
1. Children have a more sensitive immune system than adults and delicate organs. Therefore, battery ingestion would harm them more vigorously than us. So, you have to be cautious about what they play with. Keep the remotes and other electronic devices away from them. Make sure the batteries that their toys have are not scattered everywhere. Maintaining a secure household environment is what we recommend for avoiding this type of household hazard.
2. Take note of the patient’s condition, age, and weight. Also, note down the time, type, and the number of batteries ingested.
What Is a Reliable Way to Know About Battery Ingestion?
Obviously, you can tell from the signs and symptoms whether a kid (or a person) has swallowed a battery. Yet there are certain ways to be sure about it. Medical science has come a long way. Now you can scan the inside of your body with instruments. So, you can get a clear image of what is inside the body. To determine if there is a battery inside the stomach, either large or small, you can do the following-
Radiography is a method of taking images of your internal organs with the help of a limited amount of X-ray or gamma-ray. Radiography has brought revolutionary development in medical science. By doing radiography, you’ll get a clear image of your baby’s gastrointestinal system. And you will be ensured if it has any battery or not.
1. Can You Swallow An AA Battery?
Intentionally or unintentionally, you can swallow a AA battery. Though it is a bit large for the toddlers and the babies to swallow, a bigger kid or an adult will easily swallow it. But I must warn you! Battery ingestion is dangerous and life-threatening.
So, if you have swallowed a battery and it reached your stomach, you may develop some serious health issues like a disrupted digestive system. We recommend going to the ER (emergency room) and consulting the duty doctor there immediately.
2. What Happens If You Swallow a AA Battery Acid?
Swallowing a battery acid will lead to battery poisoning. Battery acid is acidic, and it will burn your mouth and food tube if you swallow it. Besides that, you will develop- bronchial inflammation, coughing, breathing difficulty, irritation, disruption in the digestive system, diarrhea, vomiting, constant drooling, etc. So, give a call to the Poison Control Center Emergency number (1-800-222-1222) before it worsens.
3. Would I Need to Go to the Emergency if I Swallowed a AA Battery?
A swallowed battery may not affect everyone in the same way. However, you must visit the A&E (accident and emergency) soon after you have swallowed an AA battery.
Electricity produced from the battery can burn your internal organs within hours. It can poison you with the toxic chemicals inside it. So, whether you have done it mistakenly or intentionally, it is best for you or the affected one to immediately visit the hospital emergency.
4. Is It Dangerous to Swallow a Small Battery?
Small button batteries are dangerous in the sense that they can block your esophagus. When it comes into contact with your saliva, it can produce electric current and burn the internal organs. And lastly, it can poison you with chemicals and alkaloids inside it. If the outer shell of the battery breaks with the stomach acid, the harmful chemicals come out and create toxicity in your system, which can lead to death.
5. Are AA Batteries Poisonous?
Battery cells contain metals like- mercury, lead, potassium, graphite, zinc chloride, manganese dioxide, ammonium chloride, etc. which are toxic for the human body. When one swallows or chews a battery, the caustic material inside the battery comes out. The substance is acidic and will burn the mouth or intestinal area when it comes in contact. So, the AA batteries are poisonous for you and your pet.
We hope now you know and understand ‘What happens if you swallow a AA battery?’. Battery ingestion is common among toddlers and babies. It is dangerous and lethal if you have ingested a battery and need to take action immediately. Sharing this valuable information with your family, friends, and colleagues certainly can help to reduce the damage.
On our site, we talk all about batteries. You can find helpful how-to articles to informative articles like, Does Battery Voltage Drop When It Discharges here. You can also check out the best 18650 batteries to get the best deal.
About This Writer
Hi, I am responsible for the 'Homeowners Power Solutions' category. My name is Liam Jaxon and a licensed technician with 7 years of experience in vehicle batteries, electrical gadgets, and home appliances. My working experience in different residential & light commercial electrical sectors and the automobile industry helped to acquire vast knowledge in this industry.