Foreign Object in the Throat, 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, drink liquids and eat soft foods until it gets better. 

  • Your healthcare provider may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medicine to ease pain and swelling. Follow your provider's instructions for taking the medicine.

To prevent stuck objects in the future:

  • Cut food into small pieces that are no longer than ½ inch. Chew well. Don't talk or laugh while you have food in your mouth.

  • 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, especially children younger than 4 years old.

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

  • If swallowing pills is an issue, ask the healthcare provider for a medicine that comes in smaller pill form or a liquid form.

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 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

  • Belly (abdominal) pain

  • Bloody bowel movements

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