The holiday season is full of lights and sounds, and some of that joy is produced by devices that use button type batteries, which may be small but they carry big risks, and experts say those risks are rising. "We're actually seeing this gradual increase in these batteries being ingested and they are very, very toxic", said Dr. Michael Benninger who is an ear, nose and throat expert at Cleveland Clinic.
About 3500 button battery ingestions are reported to us poison control centers each year. Button batteries come in various sizes and bring life to a number of items, like musical cards, ornaments, flameless candles and other holiday trinkets. Health officials say that if the battery can be removed from a device it can cause serious injury, or even death, when swallowed by a small child.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the most common type of button batteries are the ones that are about the size of a nickel, but they come in many sizes, and any type of battery ingestion can easily damage the gastro-intestinal tract of a small child. "They can cause erosion of the esophagus or swallowing tube or in the stomach. They can obstruct an airway or they can obstruct swallowing" said Benninger.
Poison control experts say accidental ingestions happen very quickly, and can be hard to spot, because there are often no symptoms until serious injury has occurred. Doctors say if your child complains of chest or belly pain, a button battery could be the cause, and you need to take the to an emergency room immediately.