What Happens if You Swallow AAA Batteries?

A battery against a white background.

AAA batteries are just small enough for children, and for some adventurous adults, to swallow. It's more common than most people think. Once you or someone you know has ingested a battery, you will want to take immediate action.

Will a Swallowed Battery Cause Physical Harm?

In most cases, these batteries will pass through your system without any issues. During digestion, the casing on the batteries can start to corrode and leak toxic acid into your system. This can cause symptoms that are as mild as heartburn, or as serious as severe digestion issues. The battery's chemicals can damage the lining of the stomach, the liver, the kidneys and worse, the nervous system and cardiovascular system.

What Should You Do?

Stacks of batteries.

If you or your child has swallowed any kind of battery, your first step needs to be a trip to the emergency room. Depending on the doctor's recommendations, the treatment may be as simple as observation, or as extreme as surgery to remove the battery. The faster the situation is addressed, the less likely it is that severe, or even fatal, consequences will ensue.

Knowing what can happen if you swallow a AAA battery can be helpful should it ever happen. Of course, it's always best to keep them out of reach of the little ones.

AAA Batteries FAQ

How toxic are AAA batteries?

Batteries contain battery acid, which can be extremely harmful. The acid in the battery can cause burns in the mouth, throat, esophagus, and intestines.

Burns can occur very quickly and can cause severe damage. Swallowing or inhaling battery acid can cause eye damage and burned skin.

Do you need surgery if you swallow a battery?

If you or a child in your care or an animal in your care swallows a battery, immediate surgery may be necessary in order to remove the battery before it does extensive damage.

Is swallowing a battery a medical emergency?

Swallowing a battery is a medical emergency and the affected person or animal should be taken to an emergency center at once. Make it very clear that a battery has been swallowed, because an emergency surgery to remove the battery may be required.

Does swallowing a battery cause pain?

Swallowing a battery may cause no symptoms or it can cause severe symptoms. A person or animal that has swallowed a battery may experience abdominal pain and bloody discharge.

Trouble breathing, difficulty swallowing, coughing, labored breathing, sore throat, and other pain can all be the result of a swallowed battery.

How do doctors remove a swallowed battery?

Doctors will take an X-ray if someone has swallowed a battery in order to locate where the battery is within the body. Depending on where the battery is, emergency surgery or an endoscopy may be needed to remove the battery.

In some cases, the battery may be allowed to pass through the body naturally.