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Foreign object aspiration or ingestion
Alternative namesSwallowed foreign object; Obstructed airway; Inhalation of a foreign object
DefinitionWhen aspiration occurs, a foreign object is inhaled into the respiratory tract where it may become lodged and cause respiratory problems, as well as local inflammation and infection. See also choking .
With ingestion, a foreign object (anything other than food) is swallowed and may either become lodged along or pass through the gastrointestinal (digestive) tract.
ConsiderationsAspiration may occur at any age, but it is more commonly seen in the 1 to 3 year-old age group.
SymptomsAspiration of tiny foreign objects are usually noted immediately with coughing , wheezing , respiratory distress, or total lack of air exchange. However, aspiration may cause only minimal initial symptoms and be forgotten until later symptoms related to local inflammation or infection develop.
If choking or coughing subsides, and the child is not exhibiting any other symptoms, he or she may be monitored for developing signs and symptoms of respiratory infection or irritation. X-rays may be helpful for diagnosis.
Bronchoscopy may be necessary for definitive diagnosis as well as removal of the object. Antibiotics may be used and respiratory therapy techniques if infection develops.
Even sharp objects (such as pins and screws) usually pass through the GI tract without complications. X-ray examination is occasionally necessary, especially if the child demonstrates symptoms of distress or the object does not pass within 4 to 5 days.
Do NotDO NOT "force feed" infants that are crying or breathing rapidly.
If a child is believed to have either aspirated or swallowed an object, call your health care provider.
Update Date: 10/28/2003Cherlin Johnson, M.D., Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT