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Myth Buster: When He Swallows a Coin

[PURPLE_TEXT_BOLD {What you've heard:}] If your child swallows a coin, slap him on the back until it pops out of his mouth.

[PURPLE_TEXT_BOLD {The truth:}] The best action depends on the situation  -- and your child's age.

* If he's coughing but alert, his airway may be partially obstructed. Slapping him may shift the coin and cause a full obstruction. "Let him cough the coin up," says Ghazala Sharieff, M.D., director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine for California Emergency Physicians, in San Diego.

* If that doesn't work, or if he grabs at his throat, turns bluish, can't cough (or is coughing weakly), have someone call 911 or your local equivalent. If you know the Heimlich maneuver, do it now. (It's different for a baby than for a child over 1; learn it from the American Red Cross; you can also download "How to Save a Choking Child* If he fully swallows the coin, call the doctor. If it's in the esophagus or stomach, it'll likely pass on its own. But if it's higher up or doesn't pass after a day or so, it'll need to be removed.

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