What To Do When Kid Swallowed A Penny


Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers are enough to drive you up the wall with their tendency to put anything they find in their mouths. Small children are attracted to anything shiny.  A penny that lay down carelessly is something they were looking for! Babies are faster than you assume. Therefore, even if you witnessed it, you may not be able to catch them on time.  When compared to kids swallow button batteries, which can turn lethal, a kid swallowing a penny is less dangerous. However, sometimes swallowing a penny calls an emergency situation. Yet, around 80-90% of the time, penny pass unobstructed through the digestive tract and get discharged with stool. However, it is important to weigh up the situation on time and find out the next move.  Find out what to do when the kid swallowed a penny.

How Do I Know If My child Swallowed A Coin?

Most children show no symptoms after swallowing a penny. In that case, only your gut feeling counts. Or else you may find a missing penny that fell on the floor when your little one is roaming around there. Anyway, if the child is acting normal, drinking, and eating normal, then there is nothing to worry about. It will eventually leave the body when they do potty.

How Long Does It Take To Pass A Swallowed Coin?

Penny swallowed by the child usually passes out through the poo within four to five days. More often, it will get out of the system within 48 hours. Yet, you should monitor your child closely. Even after 48 hours, there is no sign of coin in the stool, it is better to take the child to a hospital. The doctor will take an X-ray to make sure the penny is not stuck in between. A coin stuck in the esophagus must be removed despite if the child exhibits symptoms or not.

How Do I Know If The Penny Is Stuck Inside?

If the penny is stuck in the esophagus, the child exhibit the following symptoms:

  • The child gets a sensation of the penny being stuck in the throat area
  • Excessive saliva sometimes bloody
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble swallowing food
  • Drooling, spitting, and gagging
  • Pain in the chest, neck, or throat area

If the penny happens to get stuck in airways or lungs, the child exhibit:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Make strange sounds while breathing

If the penny is stuck in the stomach or intestine, the following symptoms will arise:

  • Continuous vomiting
  • Changes in bowel sounds
  • Severe abdominal (tummy) pain
  • Presence of blood in vomit or stool
  • Fever

What Are The Consequences Of Kids Swallowing A Penny?

  • If the coin gets stuck in the esophagus, sometimes the child may able to eat or drink food without difficulty. However, in that case, the child coughs persistently. This, in turn, brings about inflammation and irritation of the esophageal tissues. This may end up in the tearing of the esophagus. This is a potentially dangerous situation.
  • If the coin lodges in the intestine and not expelled through the stool, long time contact with the intestine also ends up in the rupture of the intestinal wall. This is also a potentially dangerous situation. In that case, the stool often turns dark or bloody, indicating bleeding in the intestine.

What Are The Emergency Warning Signs If The Child Swallowed A Penny?

Any of the symptoms mentioned above need to be addressed to the doctor. However, you should call the ambulance if the child:

  • Is not responding
  • Not able to breathe
  • Lost consciousness

What To Do If The Child Swallowed A Penny?

The doctor will take an X-ray to find the position of the penny. How fast it removed depends on the symptoms and place it is logged.

  • If the penny gets stuck in the esophagus, it will be removed through esophagoscopy. However, if the child exhibit signs like pain in the neck, difficulty to swallow, etc. it will be removed within two hours. In asymptomatic cases, if the penny remains in the esophagus for 24 hours, it will be removed through endoscopic intervention.
  • If the coin is not stuck in the esophagus and airways and is not passing through the stool, enema is done to move it fast. However, if the penny is still in the stomach by four weeks, it is removed through elective endoscopy.
  • If the coin is logged in the small intestine and the child is not showing any warning signs, clinical observation and monitoring are initiated until it passes through the stool. However, if the child exhibit signs of bowel obstruction or perforation, surgical removal of the coin will be considered.
  • If the coin is stuck in the airway, laryngoscopy, and bronchoscopy will need to be done to remove it.

Let’s Wrap It Up

Hands and mouths are a major tool for small children to explore the world around them. And, their movements are as fast as blinking.  You may not be able to track all their moves on time. Therefore, keep your surroundings as kid-proof as possible.


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