DD got sunflower seed stuck in throat...... - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 5 Old 08-19-2013, 10:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Hoping someone might be able to tell me if they've had a similar experience....


This last Saturday, my 6 year old got a sunflower seed stuck in her throat (shell and all). She had one in her mouth when her sister pushed her and it went into her throat. She says she swallowed and it got stuck. She came screaming to me and told me it was stuck and pointed right about at the hollow of her neck. I got her some water, yet she was still hurting and distressed. Flustered, we got in the car ready to head to the E.R. I instead stopped at the store got her a banana, a coconut water and magnesium to try and relax and push it through. When she drank this she said she thought she felt it move down. Immediately after she started wheezing, so we went to the E.R. anyway.


They took x-rays, which of course didn't show anything because a sunflower seed won't show up. They noted the wheezing and said since she wasn't in distress anymore that she probably passed it and if it was in her lungs she would be more uncomfortable and trying to cough.


Fast forward to today, she is still wheezing and has a mild cough. She says the irritation is originating from where the seed was originally stuck. Not understanding why she would be wheezing still if she had actually swallowed and not aspirated the seed, I took her to urgent care this evening. Again he noted the wheezing but was insistent that there is no issue, and if she actually inhaled the seed "her body will take care of it" and wrote me a rx for allergy meds. 


She doesn't have asthma, she's not sick and she doesn't have allergies. This came on immediately after the seed got stuck, and I can hear "whistling" from across the room when she takes a deep breath or laughs. She is in great spirits and feels fine and energetic otherwise. I just can't find an explanation as to why she would be wheezing two days after the fact unless there was damage or irritation to her windpipe from the seed poking the common wall of the esophagus and trachea or had actually aspirated the seed and it's lodged in there with no pain. Yet the doctor doesn't think this is possible. When I hold my stethoscope to her neck the sound is louder than in her lungs.


Given the doctor this evening was of no help whatsoever, I'm hoping someone might be able to speak from experience having ever lodged something in the throat and having wheezing as a symptom?


I have another appointment with her ped on thursday.

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#2 of 5 Old 08-19-2013, 10:25 PM
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I have no experience with this, but didn't want to read without posting. What a scary thing! Can you tell if the wheezing is coming from her throat or her lungs? If it's her throat, I could see it being an irritated windpipe--just based on how my kids sound when they have croup, which is also in the throat rather than the lungs. 

lucky mom to Oliver, 8/6/07, and Finn, 11/28/10, and wife to DH
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#3 of 5 Old 08-19-2013, 10:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. It sounds like it's coming from the throat. When I hold the stethoscope to her lungs I can can hear it, but the same sound is very loud when placed on her throat. I told the doctor this, but he said that it's louder there because the air is more compressed as it comes up, which made no sense to me. The fact that it was louder on her throat tells me that that is where the sound is originating from. I'm just trying to figure out if an injury to the esophagus can cause wheezing, otherwise I'm concerned something might be in her airway. This doctor did nothing to quell my concerns, as he couldn't give any reason for the wheezing related to the incident. And since when does your lung secrete fluids that can break down a sunflower shell?

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#4 of 5 Old 08-20-2013, 05:28 PM
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I have no experience with this, but I would trust your mama instinct and take her to see a specialist. There must be a reason for why this sound is there when it wasn't before she swallowed the seed.


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#5 of 5 Old 08-22-2013, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, I did just that..trusted my mommy instincts. I knew something wasn't right even after we left the ER. 


You shouldn't wheeze if you've simply swallowed a seed. Yet no one could give me a reasonable explanation for why she would be wheezing. All the questions I posed as possible reasons were met with doubt, but still no one felt she had actually aspirated that seed.


I kept grilling her as to whether or not she actually swallowed before she felt the seed get stuck. She couldn't really tell me, and I knew in a six year old's mind that she could very easily equate something being trapped in her throat as having "swallowed" it.


After the Urgent Care visit with the doctor who sounded like he got his degree from "How To Fake Being a Doctor University", and then posting on here, I decided I needed to get her into the pediatrician sooner than thursday.


We got in tuesday afternoon and the ped said she was glad I ignored the Urgent Care doctor. We ended up with 3 more X-rays (ugh, more radiation) which still didn't show a seed, and they sent us to the hospital. They did a rigid bronchoscope and sure enough the seed was down in the right side of her bronchial tree and they plucked it out!


While she has some throat irritation from the procedure, the worst part of it all was the i.v. of which she was quite traumatized from at the time. But thank God it all came out okay. The seed fortunately didn't cause any inflammation or infection.


I still can't believe that idiot doctor. When I questioned him that if she had in fact simply swallowed the seed and it had gotten stuck in the esophagus, could it have irritated the common wall enough that the trachea would possibly become inflamed or irritated too, he said no and that the "esophagus is down here", and pointed to his chest! So then what the heck do you call the part of that same tube that runs through your throat too, Mr. Smarty Pants?! 


What I learned or have reaffirmed from this ordeal:


  • If your child says they "swallowed" something and it got stuck it their throat, they may not have actually swallowed it. (learned)
  • Just because someone has the title acronym "M.D." at the end of their name doesn't mean they're actually qualified to practice medicine. (reaffirmed)
  • Trust your motherly instincts and be persistent. (reaffirmed)
  • You don't have to be a medical professional to own a stethoscope and they come in quite handy. (reaffirmed)
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