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Kaitlyn Almeida, PA-C
By Kaitlyn Almeida, PA-C on March 21, 2024

The Secret Weapon Against Button Battery Dangers

As an urgent care PA and a mom, there isn’t much that scares me. My kid could eat a fistful of dirt, and I wouldn’t bat an eye. But there is one thing that makes me jump faster than a small child standing next to my bed at 4 am telling me they have a tummy ache…button batteries.  

They’re small, ubiquitous, and waiting to be eaten like a coin-sized snack by toddlers near and far. Unfortunately, young children swallow things they shouldn’t more often than we’d like to admit, but when they ingest one of these tiny powerhouses, acting fast could be the difference between life and death.  

What if I told you that a simple pantry staple could save a child’s life in the face of a button battery ingestion emergency? Intrigued? You should be.

The risks are right under your nose

Awareness of what household items contain these is crucial in keeping them out of the reach of curious little hands. Small electronics, remote controls, and, unfortunately, many children’s toys are powered by button batteries. Those tiny light-up trinkets that come home in goodie bags or catch every child’s eye as a prize at the arcade? A button battery likely fuels it. What about those toy phones and keys that are every toddler’s prized possession? You guessed it…powered by a button battery

Prevention is key in avoiding a button battery emergency. Here is some educational material for medical professionals and parents to help us remove some of the usual suspects from our households.  

Know the dangers 

When a button battery comes into contact with the esophagus, it creates an electric current that produces hydroxide ions, creating an alkaline environment and causing a caustic injury. The consequences can be devastating, resulting in tissue damage, burns, perforation, and even death. Tissue damage can occur in as little as 15 minutes after ingestion.  

If a patient is lucky enough to have the button battery pass through the esophagus into the stomach, the damage is often less severe, thanks to the stomach’s thick lining. However, chemical burns, tissue damage, and perforation are all possible if the battery remains there for extended periods.  

Breakfast ingredients can save a life

Yes, you read that right. Enter our grocery store heroes: honey and jam. 

In a recent study, researchers found that honey and jam were able to help neutralize the injury caused by button batteries. They can help act as a barrier, mitigating the damage and buying precious time for medical intervention. Chasing a button battery with a few spoonfuls of honey or jam may buy you some time as you go to the emergency room for further evaluation.

So, everyone, take note. Honey and jam aren’t just for your toast; they have officially been elevated to the heroes of the pantry.

To learn more about the dangers of button batteries and how we can do our part as providers, tune in to our PPC segment “What Common Items Can Neutralize Button Batteries?” on April’s episode of Urgent Care Reviews and Perspectives podcast. 

Published by Kaitlyn Almeida, PA-C March 21, 2024
Kaitlyn Almeida, PA-C