The strange things people have swallowed

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Swallowed foreign objects

People across the world have swallowed the strangest objects.  Things that could not accidentally have been hidden in their food. The idea is that we should not consume anything that is not food or medicine. Doctors worldwide report the challenges they face to remove strange objects people swallowed.

Examples of strange objects swallowed by people

A 10-year-old girl in Texas swallowed a part of her Fidget Spinner in 2017. The previous year, a 29-year-old man in Ireland swallowed a cellphone. According to another report, a doctor in Croatia removed a lighter from a man’s stomach in 2012, 17 months after he swallowed it. Elsewhere, an X-ray showed a SpongeBob SquarePants pendant in the throat of a 16-month-old child.

I can understand a child swallowing a foreign object because they put everything in their mouths. However, how could an 18-year-old woman explain swallowing her toothbrush? Then there is a case in which a 4-year-old child swallowed a sharp instrument while his dentist performed root canal treatment!

Common foreign objects swallowed accidentally

Some accidentally swallowed foreign objects are quite common. They land in the mouth, along with food. Although most adults and children pass foreign objects naturally, the items remain dangerous while inside the body.

Fishes and fishbones
Notice the missing bones?

Fish bones or chicken bones

The odd fishbone can hide in a fish fillet, and swallowing it is understandable but dangerous. The risk is higher if the fishbone remains undetected. The sharp end of the fishbone could pierce the esophagus, located very close to the back of the heart. A sharp bone can puncture the heart’s left atrium. Doctors say the risk escalates significantly if the fishbone remains there for more than 24 hours.

The danger level depends on the size of the fishbone and its location. Also, the amount of time since it was swallowed. If the bone does not naturally pass, an endoscopy might be the only option.

Toothpicks swallowed


Swallowing toothpicks is not common, although it happens.  It could have serious consequences. Importantly, it is a medical emergency because the perforation of the intestines could be fatal. Researchers found 136 reports of swallowed toothpicks. Of those. almost 80% caused gut perforations, and 9% caused death. More than half of those cases required surgical removal of the swallowed toothpicks. Further dangers include gut injuries. They could result in peritonitis, sepsis and death. The researchers say toothpicks do not always show up in ultrasounds or CT scans. For that reason, the possibility of a swallowed toothpick must be considered in any case of acute abdomen pain.

Grill brush

Metal brush bristles

The metal bristles of a brush used to clean the barbecue are becoming a commonly swallowed foreign object. A medical journal reported almost 1,700 visits to emergency rooms from 2002 through 2014 involved fine metal bristles embedded in internal tissue. Doctors say it is nearly always impossible to remove these fine embedded metal bristles without full-out surgical procedures.


I hope this will encourage all those cookout chefs to replace metal brushes at the start of spring each year.

Also, make sure you don’t leave cellphones or toothbrushes close to trays of food! You never know, maybe the guests mistake them for finger foods LOL

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