Ingestion of foreign objects by kids is the most horrifying part of them exploring an all new world around them. The shiny and lustrous look of coins always seems appealing to kids. According to a report, in 2003, about 92,166 calls of such cases were reported in the poison centers in USA. What if something like that happens to your kid (God forbid)? How’d you deal with a child swallowed penny? Read on to find the best solutions.

Is It a Cause for Concern?

Yes! It definitely is a cause of concern. You can’t overlook the matter. The first step is to stay calm. That’s the best a mother can do in a situation like this. You must know that not every foreign object that a child swallows should be a reason to worry. As a penny has a round shape with soft edges, it would not be a greater risk as compared to the other sharp or pointy objects like a piece of glass, a broken piece of some toy or a battery.

As a child swallows a penny, there could be a number of possibilities. For instance:

  • The coin may directly go into the stomach without getting stuck anywhere. It takes 3 to 4 days (or about 72 hours), the coin passes through the colon, and gets out with feces.

  • If the penny doesn’t come out with the stool, it’s quite likely to have stuck in the stomach passage (instant medical attention is required).

  • Coin may stick in the esophagus.

  • Many times, a penny gets trapped in the intestine, causing the tearing of intestinal wall. The most obvious symptoms may include: stool with blood, bowel with weird sounds, abdominal pain and vomiting.

  • Many times, the coin sticks somewhere inside, and the kid does not show any alarming symptoms (given below). He eats and swallows properly. The only symptom is a continuous coughing.

Note: Get immediate medical assistance if the coin doesn’t come out within the given time frame, even if the kid does not show any symptom. If it remains stuck, the kid may suffer from inflammation of esophagus tissues.

What to Expect?

In about 80% to 90% cases, the round penny tends to get out of body. If your kid is calm and has no apparent symptoms of discomfort, you can wait (not without doctor’s advice) for the coin to expel on its own. Normally it takes 2 to 3 days, but there are cases, where it took about 4 to 5 days’ maximum in passing of the stool along with a penny.

Look for these Symptoms

As it happens, keep an eye on the basic symptoms. The severity or normality of matter can be determined by the type of symptoms and the placement of the coin in child’s body. If your child shows any of the below-given symptoms, you shouldn’t wait for the feces, go get him examined. The normal symptoms that body reveals after having the child swallowed penny, may include:

  • Difficulty in breathing/choking

  • Nnoisy breathing

  • Difficulty in crying

  • Vomiting

  • Pain in back, tummy or neck

  • Difficulty in swallowing food or water

  • Coughing

  • Drooling

  • Unconsciousness

  • Fever

  • Continuous dropping of saliva from mouth

If you find any of these symptoms, the most recommended step is to get him some immediate medical assistance. The best ways are:

  • Get your child to emergency department

  • Contact your doctor

  • Call 911 or your nearest poison center

What to Do in this Situation

In most of the cases, when any such incident occurs, moms get panicked and commit a few mistakes. Here are a few things that must never be done.

  • Don’t get panicky.

  • Never try to remove the coin on your own, by making your child vomit or by forcing your finger in baby’s throat.

  • Don’t force your kid to drink or eat something forcefully.

  • Don’t feed your kid with laxatives.

The Right Way to Deal with this Situation

Here we have enlisted the basic steps that a mother needs to follow, when she faces a situation like this.

  1. Wait for the Penny

If running an x-ray shows the coin in the stomach, the doctor is quite likely to suggest you to wait for a couple of days, until it expels from the kid’s poop. If the baby poops in the diaper, things would be a lot easier. But if he is potty-trained, use a strainer to collect his stool. Pass hot water from the strainer to check the coin. For a situation like this, banana is a good food item. Bananas tend to increase the bowel movement. Besides this, keep the child hydrated with plenty of fluid intake. It would also cause ease in passing of the stool.

2. Endoscopy

If child swallowed penny doesn’t come out in the stool or if it remains stuck in esophagus, the next recommended step is endoscopy. The doctor determines the location of the coin by x-ray or through any other way of scanning. Endoscope is a soft tube that is passed inside the kid’s body to get the penny out. The procedure is performed after giving anesthesia to the baby. An open surgery is not recommended in such cases.

What Other Parents Say about This Matter?

“A lot depends on the size and shape of the coin. If it’s a small and round shaped penny, stay hopeful for its getting a safe passage. But in case the penny is bigger in size or if it has a pointy or triangular shape, there are great chances of it to cause tearing or scratching in digestive tract or trachea.”

“I believe it’s a dangerous situation that could end in anything—from passing through your digestive system to cause blocking of the airway. And if not treated on time, this could lead to the loss of life. In my case, our doctor called on a pediatric gastroenterologist and he said that the penny in the stomach could take a few days to two months’ maximum, in coming out. And it was the 10th day when it was expelled finally.”

“I would recommend to act as fast as possible in this regard. Coins are made of a toxic material and it really can poison kid’s body. My neighbor’s kid swallowed one and they immediately called on the poison center.”

“Taking your baby to A&E is yet another great option. They not just check the kid with care but try their best to keep the track of the child swallowed penny until it is expelled from the body. “


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