“Button” batteries commonly used in toys, remote controls and other household devices are responsible for doubling the rate of emergency room visits for children who swallow them.

Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said that the small, shiny batteries are tempting to toddlers, who can easily swallow them and suffer serious injury from the batteries becoming lodged in the esophagus, leaking acid of creating an electrical current that can flow through body tissues.

Even more troubling is the fact that many children can swallow the small batteries without being seen by parents, and suffer severe internal injuries before an adult even knows something is wrong. This is because symptoms are virtually undetectable, or mirror those of a common infection.

For example, if a button battery is placed in an ear or nose, this can cause some pain and drainage, which may be confused with common childhood maladies. Sometimes, the consequences can be dire. Children who swallow button batteries may suffer significant internal tissue injury due to the battery’s electrical current. A button battery can perforate the esophagus, cause vocal chord paralysis or even death by a severe hemorrhage.

Researchers said that prevention is the easiest cure, and parents should make sure that all compartments on battery cases are screwed in or taped shut. Dead batteries should be thrown into the bottom of the trashcan so curious children cannot find them. If you suspect your child has ingested a button battery, take them to the emergency room immediately.

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