There is a hidden hazard that could cause serious injury and even death to young children and unfortunately most folks don’t realize it. Small button cell batteries found in bathroom scales, remote controls, iPod chargers, and even musical greeting cards are dangerous. If ingested, the tiny lithium batteries can bore holes through the esophagus and surrounding organs causing serious and often permanent problems. Currently, there are no warnings on the products containing the batteries. Cara George of Littleton, Colorado, is pushing to raise awareness about lithium batteries. Two years ago her 18-month-old daughter died after ingesting one of the tiny batteries.
These batteries can cause serious problems for young children and the elderly. It’s reported that children can think the small, disc-shaped batteries are candy. The elderly often mistake them for medicine. Symptoms similar to the stomach flu or an upper respiratory infection usually can occur within hours of ingestion. It can be particularly difficult to pinpoint a diagnosis, especially when many children who eat the batteries are too young to communicate it to their parents or a doctor.
Nearly 3,500 cases of button cell battery ingestion are reported each year to poison control centers. But, the newer lithium cell batteries are stronger and are more likely than their predecessors to cause serious damage to internal organs. According to the National Capital Poison Center in Washington, the incidence of severe complications from ingestion of button cells has increased sevenfold over the past few years. Moderate to severe cases have climbed from about a dozen cases a year to nearly 100 per year. The most lethal batteries that can be ingested are those that begin with the number 20, such as 2032, 2025 and 2016. Those are responsible for more than 90% of the serious injuries from cell battery ingestion.
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