Unusual case of external object (betel nut piece) in the airway of an 18 month old child.
Accidental ingestion of an external object (a foreign body) may lead to it getting impacted in either the airway or food pipe. It is more common in children of the age group of 2 to 5 yrs because of their tendency to put any and every object in their mouth which may subsequently slip to the throat. Foreign body in the airway can be especially life-threatening because of respiratory blockage. In such cases, there is an incessant and immediate cough as the body attempts to expel this object, but if unable to do so such an object may be immediately harmful to life. If this initial violent phase passes safely, then there is a chance of this object becoming a chronic source of infection and airway blockage and in fact many children with chronic cough, breathlessness and frequent pneumonia have been found to have swallowed an external object, found in the airway during further examination, with the history of swallowing completely absent and the parents totally unaware!!!
Here I would illustrate my recently operated case of a beete lnut as a foreign external object where a 18 month old child was found to be having chronic breathlessness and pneumonia. A foreign body was suspected during CT scan of the chest and indeed a beetel nut piece was found to be stuck in the lower airway which was removed by Flexible Fibreoptic Bronchoscopy, whereby a flexible tube is inserted via the mouth into the airway and the foreign body is removed.
The relief to the child was immediate, with quick resolution of all his symptoms. But what I do want to point out is the fact that a small child and small objects do not mix, and such small objects should never ever be in the vicinity of little children to prevent any mishap happening.