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Obstructed airway; Blocked airway
FOR INHALED OBJECT
Any child who may have inhaled an object should be seen by a doctor. Children with obvious breathing trouble may have a total airway blockage that requires emergency medical attention.
If choking or coughing goes away, and the child does not have any other symptoms, he or she should be watched for signs and symptoms of infection or irritation. X-rays may be needed.
Bronchoscopy may be necessary to make a definitive diagnosis and to remove the object. Antibiotics and respiratory therapy techniques may be used if infection develops.
FOR SWALLOWED OBJECT
Any child who is believed to have swallowed a foreign object should be watched for pain, fever, vomiting, or local tenderness. Stools (bowel movements) should be checked to see if the object exited the body. This may sometimes cause rectal or anal bleeding.
Even sharp objects (such as pins and screws) usually pass through the GI tract without complications. X-rays are sometimes needed, especially if the child has pain or the object does not pass within 4 to 5 days.
DO NOT "force feed" infants who are crying or breathing rapidly.
Call a health care provider or local emergency number (such as 911) if you think a child has inhaled or swallowed a foreign object.
Thomas SH, White BA. Foreign bodies. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 57.
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