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What to Do if You Swallow a Fishbone

Nobody wants to swallow a fishbone, and yet, it does happen since small, sharp fishbones are easy to miss when preparing and eating fish. Because these bones look dangerous and can indeed cause injury, it's natural for someone who accidentally swallows one to wonder if they should seek medical attention. Follow these steps before you do:

Don't Panic

If you've swallowed a fishbone and feel fine, you don't need to see a doctor. If the bone didn't scratch your throat on the way down, you shouldn't have any further problems. It will eventually be eliminated and removed from your body by the natural digestive process.

If feeling pain...

If, however, you feel pain in your throat, it may mean you were scratched by the fishbone. But this is still not a cause for concern. This is a common sensation that something is stuck there, but there's nothing there. In a couple of days, as that spot heals up, you should feel better.

When to see a doctor

A normal scratch does not require a doctor visit. In fact, the only time you would need to go to the doctor is if you got scratched, and that scratch got infected. In very rare cases, the bone scratches the uvula, which can become red and inflamed. If this is the case, a course of antibiotics should quickly resolve the problem.

If you're eating and you feel like something's stuck down lower in your esophagus, you feel fullness right at the base of your neck, and you are also unable to get food and water to stay down, it is possible a fishbone got lodged there and then food got backed up behind it. If this is the case, go to an emergency department right away.