Toddlers and children tend to put things in their mouths as they explore and learn about their world. Many parents have at least one story of discovering a penny in a diaper, and most others have swept something out of their baby’s mouth just in time. However, once in a while, a foreign object enters the body—either accidentally or on purpose—and the consequences are much more serious. When this happens, the physicians at Medco ER & Urgent Care are standing by with expert help available.
“We’ve seen young children who have inserted a foreign object into a nostril or ear canal or have swallowed a button battery, but we’ve also seen adults who have accidentally inhaled or swallowed something harmful, or have gotten a shard embedded in their eye,” said Medco ER & Urgent Care’s Regional Medical Director, Dr. Tariq Vora. “In any case, we know exactly what to do to help the patient.”
Dangers of Foreign Object in the Body
If a foreign object remains lodged inside the body, any of a number of dangerous things can occur. The body can go into shock, nearby organs can be damaged, infection can grow, and tissue can be permanently scarred. Occasionally, if left untreated, death can occur.
“It’s common sense to know that you need to have an emergency physician help with an impalement or other obvious foreign object penetration, but especially with little children, it takes a careful diagnosis to discover the problem if it is internal,” said Dr. Vora.
Symptoms of a Foreign Object Lodged Inside the Body
If something is stuck in the esophagus, the patient may still be able to swallow, though there will be a burning pain. Even after the object has passed into the stomach, the esophagus may still hurt as if it was still lodged there. When the esophagus is completely blocked, the patient will be unable to swallow saliva and will drool and spit. The saliva may contain blood, which indicates trauma in the throat. There may be a vomit reflex with nothing coming up. The patient will have difficulty breathing. At Medco ER, we are able to resolve the obstruction in the esophagus at times with IV medication or refer to a GI specialist in more complicated situations.
Easiest to recognize, a foreign body in the eye causes obvious symptoms. Watery eyes, runny nose and pain when blinking are all symptoms of something in the eye. A tiny sliver of glass, metal or wood in the eye can cause extreme pain. At Medco ER, we have the tools to identify and remove the foreign body from the eye using anesthetic eye drops with pain relief.
Stomach and Intestines:
If there is a foreign body in the stomach or intestines, the patient can experience cramps, pain and bloating. Abdominal cramps and area tenderness may be present. Nausea and vomiting may also occur. Young children may seem lethargic and stop eating. It is important to identify certain types of foreign objects (such as a battery) in the stomach, which require urgent medical attention.
Also reasonably easy to diagnose, a foreign object embedded in the skin is often visible. A raised, painful lump that gathers fluid may be the first indication. If the area becomes red and pus is present, there is likely something in the skin. At Medco ER, we can oftentimes remove the foreign object from underneath the skin and treat the infection right away.
Diagnosis of a foreign object in the body usually includes an imaging tool such as an X-ray, CT scan or endoscopy. Your physician will do a thorough diagnosis to discover the type and location of the offending object.
“To remove a foreign object, surgery may be required,” said Dr. Vora. “An endoscopy procedure may be able to retrieve an esophagus or stomach invader without further surgical intervention. A foreign object in the rectum may be able to be removed manually. An object in the eye or skin is usually able to be removed with minimal difficulty.” Once the object is removed and the wound closed, further treatments such as IV fluids, antibiotics or a tetanus shot may be needed to help the body heal.
Fast Help at Medco ER & Urgent Care
When you suspect there’s something wrong with your child, or when someone has an encounter with a foreign object in his or her body, the emergency physicians at Medco ER & Urgent Care are standing by to offer top healthcare services. Our no-wait ER is open 24/7 for all your medical needs. Our highly trained staff respond quickly to determine the severity of each condition and to provide appropriate care to each patient.
- Plano: 3960 Legacy Drive on the corner of Legacy and Coit Road.
Call us @ 469-392-4000.