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The Dangers of Hearing Aid Batteries for Pets and Children

dangers of hearing aid batteries for pets and children

When I have friends with children or dogs to visit, I always make sure my hearing aid batteries are out of harm’s way.

Our dog, Tilly, has never shown any interest in batteries and has only ever had one of my hearing aids in her mouth for a second a long time ago. Other pet-lovers are not always so fortunate.

Hearing aids that are still switched on and lying around emit high pitched sounds that can irritate dogs, which has resulted in some aids getting eaten. 

So, when it comes to the curiosity of other people’s dogs or small children it’s best to make sure batteries (new and used) are kept out of their reach.

Ordinarily, I have those little disc dispensers of hearing aid batteries strategically placed all over the house: the shelf by the hall mirror, the coffee table in the living room, a cupboard in the kitchen, on my desk in my office, in my handbag (wherever that ends up) – and the drawer in the bedroom (where I keep most of the stock). 

However, BBC.com recently told the story of the devastating effects that swallowing a watch battery caused a three-year-old girl from Northern Ireland. This got me thinking about the need for ‘due diligence’ around where to keep my hearing aid batteries when friends with small children – and friends with pets – come to stay.

What are the risks?

According to the BBC report,

“If accidentally swallowed, the small, round batteries can get lodged in the oesophagus and burn a hole through its lining.”

It also said that London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital had seen a dramatic rise in cases, which average around one child per month.

“Button batteries should be treated like poison and kept out of reach of children, Kate Cross, Consultant Neonatal and Paediatric Surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital told the BBC. “If the battery gets enveloped in the mucosa of the oesophagus it creates an electrical circuit and the battery starts to function, releasing an alkali which is like caustic soda, which can erode through the wall to the windpipe.

“If the battery is facing a different way it can burn into the aorta, a major blood vessel, and there have been cases in Britain where the child has bled to death. That is why it is important to get the message out to parents but also other health professionals because this is a time critical problem.”

It’s not just children who are at risk; pets are too – and, the number of pets swallowing hearing aid batteries – and whole hearing aids for that matter – should also not be overlooked. (Just check out dogshaming.com.)

Signs a Dog Ate a Hearing Aid Battery

There are tell-tale signs to determine if a dog has consumed a hearing aid battery.

According to Petfinder’s Charlotte Means, DVM, ASPCA National Animal Poison Center:

“If battery fluid has been ingested, the tips and sides of the tongue will usually appear red and raw, or will have a whitish-gray appearance due to dead skin. The dog will generally drool heavily and may vomit. He may be quiet or may whimper or cry due to pain. Although many animals will stop eating because of oral pain, some dogs will continue to eat, but may chew slowly and carefully. The dog may appear to have difficulty swallowing. These signs often are delayed and may not appear for up to 12 hours.”

Prevention is better than cure

In ‘doing a sweep’ of the house prior to my latest small guests arriving, removing from reach each stash of batteries, I decided upon one ‘safe place’ to keep all the new and used batteries – in a drawer in the master bedroom.

Drawers or cupboards are good places to keep batteries, but it’s important to ensure that they don’t contain and sweets, pills or other things interesting to children.

Warnings

The packaging for my hearing aid batteries, clearly states, “Store discarded batteries out of reach from children. If swallowed, consult your doctor immediately.”

There are also symbols illustrating what not to do with batteries. But how many of us who handle batteries on a daily basis realize that we’re handing something as potentially lethal as a knife, poison or other hazardous objects?

The BBC flagged up that in addition to Great Ormond Street, children’s hospitals in Birmingham, Sheffield, and Manchester have also had a ‘steady stream of cases,’ and are also trying to help raise awareness of the need to handle and store batteries out of the reach of small children.

On the BBC site, a consultant surgeon at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool is quoted as saying, “We have also had a few cases of children putting them into the nose with nasty consequences, including perforation of the nasal septum (a hole in the partition between the nostrils) or putting them into their ear causing serious inflammation.”

Help save lives

It’s good to raise this issue every now and then to bring it to the forefront of people’s minds. If we can prevent one hospitalization, or trip to see the veterinarian, then this post – and its subsequent shares – will have done a very good thing.

So, thank you in advance for sharing this post.

Angie Aspinall on LinkedinAngie Aspinall on Twitter
Angie Aspinall
Phonak hEARo, Angie is a freelance journalist, copywriter, website designer and social media consultant. (www.aspinallink.co.uk) She lives in Scotland with her husband Richard, and their Westie, Tilly. Angie was diagnosed with Otosclerosis in her right ear at the age of 30. In 2011, she suffered sudden profound hearing loss in her left ear. She now uses a Phonak CROS II with a Phonak Audéo V hearing aid. You can follow Angie's international discussion group #HearingLossHour on Twitter @hearinglosshour.

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