Child displays puzzling symptoms after family dinner from the grill

Emergency room doctors see practically everything when it comes to bizarre or unusual injuries.  But a recent case baffled doctors and will serve as a warning to everyone who likes to grill.  

It happened at Johns Hopkins All Children Hospital in Tampa recently.  A young boy was brought into the ER by his family complaining of pain in his ear following a family barbecue. The doctors did an assessment and couldn't find anything, so they discharged him and told the family to follow up with an ear, nose, and throat specialist.  The ENT physician also didn't find a problem and told the family to take him home and watch for other symptoms.  That's when things took a dangerous turn. 

About a week later, the family was back in the ER where the boy was complaining of an earache, pain in his neck, and a fever. Dr. Meghan Martin, a pediatric emergency room physician, did another assessment and once again found nothing.  That's when they decided to do every kind of test possible to figure out why the boy was getting worse.

The CT scan ended up showing the reason.  Dr. Martin said that when they found out about the issue, they realized it was completely avoidable in the first place. "We were able to see that he had a small foreign body, which was a small wire from a grill brush that had become lodged in the tonsil tissue in his throat, and he was started to form a small abscess around it."   

It's believed that one of the small wires from a grill brush got loose and stayed on the grill. When they cooked burgers, the wire got into the meat and lodged into the boy's mouth near the throat. Had they not found it, things could have gotten worse, quickly. "So we called the ear, nose, and throat doctor. They took him to the operating room pretty quickly, and we were able to get it taken care of."

Dr. Martin is also a star on TikTok as her videos are seen by millions of viewers, and so she is using this bizarre medical scare to educate people on hidden dangers all around us. "So there are a ton of great options out there that don't involve these small metal wires," says Martin. "There are things like the Scrub Daddy, which is more like a scrub brush. There's also some grill wipes that can be used. There are tons of options out there that are a very good price, and they don't carry the same risks as these metal wire grill brushes."

Dr. Martin can now add this unusual case to her list of things she has never seen before.  She's thankful that although this was a very serious case, it turned out okay. "The fact that we were able to figure it out at that visit I think was really gratifying for the family and for us, really just to give us some answers."