This is what a button battery can do to the inside of your throat

The battery can make your esophagus singe, bubble and burn.
Publish date:

The experiment looks ... sparse.

It's a generic slice of ham, on a generic white styrofoam plate, with a little silver battery on it. But holy cow does it get unnerving quick.

This is the start of the experiment:

It was tweeted by EMT Ross Antonio Chavez as part of a medical training program for Hennepin County Medical Center.

But here's that same slice of ham, on the same styrofoam plate, with the same little battery on it, just a little bit later.

The ham is standing in for throat tissue here. And when combined with liquid, like saliva, the battery starts to burn – the esophageal tissue singes, bubbles, and crisps.

The goal is to show how much damage one of those button batteries can be if they're swallowed.

It's far more disturbing than ham on a plate has any right to be. But this is happening to kids.

Cases of ingesting button batteries

A 3-year-old ate only through a feeding tube, for a year, after accidentally swallowing a button battery that then got stuck in her throat, the BBC reported. She had surgery to try to repair the damage.

Here's their video report for the story:

In Oklahoma last year, a 2-year-old died after swallowing a button battery. The details are gruesome – she threw up blood and turned a blue color, and was rushed to the hospital.

“They operated on her for 2 1/2 hours, but they couldn't stop the bleeding,” a family member told The Oklahoman. “They believed the battery ate through to her carotid artery by way of her esophagus.”

And recently a Florida couple sued a hospital that told them it likely wasn't a big deal.

This doesn't happen every time says more than 3,000 button batteries – which you find in watches, small toys, cameras, and a bunch of other small electronics – are ingested each year in the U.S.

The National Capital Poison Center says a lot of times, the batteries can end up passing through the digestive system and come out with stool. It's the ones that get stuck somewhere that cause these serious issues.

If you think a child has swallowed a button battery, take them to the emergency room immediately. The faster it comes out, the less damage it can do.

You can also call U.S. Poison Control 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222

What to do

The best thing you can do – as is the case with many of the things that can be a danger to kids – is watch them. Keep an eye on their toys, and the items around your house that may use button batteries.

Make sure the battery compartments are sealed.

Next Up