What Happens If You Accidentally Eat A Fish Bone?

We've all been there: One moment, you're devouring a whole fish and the next, a bone has maneuvered its way into your throat. You may try to cough it out or swallow it, but every minute movement seems to send each sharp point deeper into the sides of your throat. Whichever route you take, it's bound to hurt all the same. If you fear this happening again, here's what to do.

Few moments in life are more painful than swallowing a fish bone. If it's not coming up, you may simply accept your fate and try to chug water to force it down. While this is a good idea, drinking olive oil is better. The oil works to lubricate your throat, allowing the bone to slide down more easily. Acidic liquids that soften bones might work in this situation, as well. A can of soda or shot of apple cider vinegar could help to weaken the bone — just make sure not to drink too much vinegar as it can cause irritation. Certain thick or sticky foods are another option for flushing the bone down. Soaking a bite of bread in water and then consuming it is a classic trick that brings the bone down with it. This could also work with a peanut butter-covered banana or marshmallow, since the bone can stick into the food rather than your throat.

Is swallowing a fish bone dangerous?

If you swallowed the bone, take stock of how you feel. It's normal for there to be some lingering pain right after forcing it down, but if it doesn't go away, call your doctor. A scratch on the throat isn't a huge deal, but according to University of Utah Health, a bone scratching your uvula could require medical attention. Although rare, it's also possible for a fish bone to damage your esophagus. This could be marked by chest pains or swelling and should be treated at the emergency room.

However scary, the risk of swallowing a bone shouldn't prevent you from enjoying a whole fish. If you roast or steam one at home, deboning it only takes a few steps. Once the fish has cooled down, slice off the head and tail and set it aside. Gently remove the fins from the fish and make a deep, vertical cut into the center of the fish. Open it up and remove the row of bones from the fish with a fork. Scrape off any tiny bones on each side of the fish and place it back together again. While your branzino may not look as neat as it did before you tore it apart and patched it back together, you no longer have to worry about choking on a bone again. Instead, you can save the parts you removed to whip up a batch of fish bone broth.