Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Swallowed object treatments

2-minute read

There are a number of things you can do if you (or your child) have swallowed a foreign object.

  • Do not eat or drink anything until you have spoken to a healthcare professional. This is in case you need to go to hospital where the object may need removing - you will need an empty stomach.
  • It is very important not to try to make yourself vomit as this could cause choking or block your airway.
  • You should check any bowel movements you have for the object. It will usually pass within four to six days. If you have not found the object in your stools (poo) after two weeks, visit your doctor for further advice. You should also speak with your doctor if you have any abdominal (stomach) pain or vomiting or you notice blood in your stools.
  • If fruit pips or very tiny objects have been swallowed there should be no need to search your stools.

You should go to the nearest emergency department for an assessment if you or your child has swallowed batteries or magnets.

You should also go to the nearest emergency department for an assessment if the object was large (for young children, this means larger than about 18mm across).

Things which are pointy – like toothpicks or broken chicken bones – very occasionally cause problems. They may seem okay at first, but can cause problems within a day or two in the bowel. If you or your child has swallowed something sharp and pointy, you should speak to a doctor or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

Coughing or breathing troubles

Occasionally, something which has been swallowed can cause a blockage or swelling of the airways. This can cause:

  • trouble breathing
  • coughing that won’t stop
  • wheezing (or a whistling sound while breathing)
  • drooling or bringing up saliva
  • loss of consciousness.

If you or your child has these symptoms, call for emergency help: triple zero (000).

Swallowing objects deliberately

  • Some people may swallow objects deliberately to harm or injure themselves.
  • If you have done this, you should know you are not alone and help is available. Please discuss this with a healthcare professional straight away.
  • Find out more about self harm.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2017

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Kids' Health - Topics - Choking on food

Have you ever heard someone coughing while they were eating or drinking then afterwards saying "Oh that went down the wrong way?"At the back of your throat food and air both travel through the same tube for a short distance until the tube divides into two tubes the oesophagus (say oss--a-gus) which carries food down into the stomach, and the trachea (trak--a)(windpipe) which carries air to the lungs

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Choking, suffocating and children - NT.GOV.AU

Find out what you can do to lower the chance of your child choking or suffocating at home.

Read more on NT Health website

Choking first aid for kids: in pictures | Raising Children Network

This essential illustrated guide shows what to do if a baby or child is choking, with information on clearing an airway blockage. Download or print out.

Read more on website

Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Choking on food and other objects - children

Choking is a risk for babies and young children

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Choking first aid for children | Raising Children Network

What would you do if a child was choking? This essential guide explains signs of airway blockages and takes you through choking first aid for children.

Read more on website

Choking prevention: babies under 12 months | Raising Children Network

This picture guide for Aboriginal parents shows how to prevent choking in babies under 12 months and what to do when a baby is choking.

Read more on website

First aid for a choking adult or child over 1

How to manage choking in an adult or a child over 1 year old.

Read more on WA Health website

Dolls | Product Safety Australia

Use our tips for buying and using dolls to help protect your child from cuts, splinters and choking hazards.

Read more on Product Safety Australia website

Homemade toys and free activities for kids | Raising Children Network

With a little imagination, you can turn ordinary things into homemade toys and free activities for kids. Here are some great ideas for kids of all ages.

Read more on website

Button batteries

Button batteries are small disc-shaped batteries containing lithium, zinc silver, or manganese. They can cause serious burns if swallowed. They are also a choking hazard for young children.

Read more on WA Health website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo