Foreign Object In Pharynx, Removed

Objects that are swallowed can get stuck in the throat (pharynx). This is most common in children, but it can happen in adults as well. Objects that may become stuck include food, bones, small button batteries, refrigerator magnets, dry dog food, coins, or other small items. You (or your child) had an object stuck in the throat. A stuck object can cause coughing, choking, pain when swallowing, or trouble swallowing. If the object is dangerous such as a battery or blocks breathing, it may need emergency removal.

The object has been removed. You are being sent home to recover. For a day or so, it may continue to feel like something is stuck in the throat. It may also hurt to swallow. This is because the throat tissues were irritated and injured. Symptoms should start to get better as the tissue heals.

Home care

  • Removing a stuck object often requires a sedative medicine. This causes drowsiness. After getting sedation, don't drive or use dangerous equipment for at least 24 hours.

  • If swallowing is painful, have liquids and soft foods until it gets better. 

  • Gargling with salt solution may help soothe a sore throat. Make a salt solution of 1/2 teaspoon of table salt dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water. Spit out the solution--don't swallow it. Ensure that children don't t swallow the solution.

  • Your doctor may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication for pain and swelling. If they did, make sure to take as directed.

To prevent stuck objects in the future:

  • Cut food into small pieces that are no longer than one-half inch. Chew well.

  • Be careful when eating fish or other food with bones.

  • Be careful with foods that may become stuck, such as raisins, grapes, nuts, hot dog skin, and hard candies. Don't give these to young children.

  • Don't let your child play with small objects that can be swallowed, such as small toys, balloons, buttons, or coins.

  • If pills are an issue, ask the healthcare provider for smaller pills or liquid medicine.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call the healthcare provider if any of the following occur:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by the healthcare provider

  • Throat pain that doesn't improve or gets worse

  • Continued trouble swallowing, choking, or other symptoms

  • Inability to open the mouth wide due to pain

  • Inability to eat or drink, or refusal to eat or drink

  • Drooling or inability to swallow saliva

  • Trouble breathing, noisy breathing, or a muffled voice

  • Increased pain with neck movement

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Abdominal pain

  • Bloody bowel movements

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© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.