Choking hazard: The danger about lollipops you might never have considered
Last summer my little niece ended up in an A&E department in Sweden (where they were on holiday at the time) after falling while running around – with a lollipop in her mouth.
The lollipop stick scraped into the back of her throat, and she was bleeding – a sight I can only assume must have been so very, very scary to her parents and siblings.
After being seen, the doctors at the local hospital decided to keep her overnight to monitor for swelling and infection, but luckily, she was discharged the next day and a saga that could have ended very differently ended up ending well. Thank God.
However, I think it's safe to say there will be no more lollipops in their house. And, having been on the other end of the phone through this ordeal, not in my house either, to be honest.
Running around with a lollipop (or even toothbrush or other objects, really) in your mouth can actually be very dangerous – and something we should always put a stop to straight away if it happens. A friend of mine once had to take her son to hospital after he fell down (he was standing on top of the toilet) with his toothbrush in his mouth and hurt the back of his throat badly.
Straws are also a known perpetrator, as are sticks and pencils too.
Oro-pharyngeal injuries (as is the medical term for an injury to the soft palate or the back of the throat) are fairly common with kids, but while the vast majority of cases end well, some can actually be fatal – so here is what you need to know:
The ABC’s – Airway, Breathing, Circulation
First: If your child IS having difficulty breathing or is losing consciousness, call 999. Now.
No? She’s crying vigorously? Her Airway and Breathing must be okay if she is crying – she’s breathing.
Do you need to visit a doctor at all?
Let’s review why.
First, the Good News: despite the frequency of oropharyngeal injuries in children – this is very common in toddlers – there have been only rare reports of serious injuries.
Now, the Bad News: the injuries that have been reported are devastating and tragic.
There have been reports in the US of injury to the carotid artery resulting in stroke in children (and adults) following injuries to the side of the palate and back of throat. The medical term for this is “neurological sequelae,” meaning injuries to the brain.
Over many years, neurological sequelae have been reported anywhere from a few hours to several days following the initial oropharyngeal injury.
So while it the vast majority of cases everything ends well, for safety's sake, if your child gets an injury to the back of the throat and it bleeds, you should ALWAYS seek medical advice and assessment.