If you think your child may have ingested water beads and they are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is best to bring them to an emergency room (like the Children’s Hospital’s Breidegam Family Children’s ER, which is the region’s only 24/7 emergency room specifically for kids) as soon as possible:
- Abdominal pain and/or swelling
- Excessive coughing/gagging
- Excessive drooling
- Feeling like something is stuck in their throat or chest
- Trouble swallowing
- Unusual or consistent loss of appetite
- Wheezing or breathing that is unusually fast or hard
However, if you suspect your child has swallowed water beads (or put them in their ears or nostrils), but they aren’t experiencing any symptoms, you should call their pediatrician for guidance on next steps.
“The risk of serious complications depends on the size of the water bead, how many were swallowed or put in the body, and how old your child is,” Mazzaccaro says. “Taking all of those factors into account, your child’s pediatrician can help you decide if you should go to the emergency room or if you can closely observe them at home.”
While Mazzaccaro says it’s important to know what to do in the worst-case scenario, he emphasizes the importance of prevention to avoid any life-threatening complications.
“It’s a cliché, but truly, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – especially when it comes to water beads and other dangerous items that children can ingest,” he says.