What to Do If You Swallow a Sunflower Seed Shell

If you swallow one of the thin seed shells from a sunflower seed, it’s unlikely to cause you any problems. The shell will probably pass through your system without causing any trouble. However, it’s best to play it safe and should anything go wrong here are some things you can do about it.

 The Shell Might Not Make It to Your Stomach at All

The shell might not make it to your stomach at all. The first thing that occurs is that the shell passes through your esophagus and into your stomach, where it may just be digested by acid and enzymes.

If that happens, you don’t have to do anything else — just wait for it to pass through your body naturally. In most cases, this will happen within a few days.

However, if the shell does make it all the way into your stomach, there’s still good news: You may not have swallowed a sunflower seed shell at all.

Sunflower Seed Shells Are Not Digestible

Most seeds are made of very hard shells. These shells contain cellulose and other tough materials that are indigestible by humans and many animals too. That’s why you might notice that when you feed birds breadcrumbs or corn kernels, they don’t digest them very well (if at all).

Call Your Doctor or Poison Control Center.

The most common cause of seed-shell ingestion is eating sunflower seeds. If you swallow a seed shell, it’s important to know what to do next.

Call your doctor or poison control center. They’ll assess the situation and determine whether you need treatment.

If you have a lot of seeds in your throat, it might be hard to breathe or swallow. You may also feel like you need to vomit. If this happens, don’t try to force yourself not to vomit. Vomiting will help clear the seeds out of your throat and mouth so they can be swallowed again.

If there are only a few seeds in your mouth, spit them out right away, wash out your mouth with water and brush your teeth (if possible). But if you have many seeds stuck in your throat or mouth (or if it’s hard for you to breathe), go straight to the emergency room for treatment

If the Seed Shell Is Stuck, You Can Induce Vomiting.

If you swallow a sunflower seed shell, do not panic. The chances of it causing damage are very low.

If the seed shell is stuck, you can induce vomiting. If it was swallowed whole, it may pass through the digestive tract without any problem.

If you have swallowed a large amount of sunflower seed shells or have any symptoms of an allergic reaction or obstruction in your upper gastrointestinal tract, call your doctor immediately or go to an emergency room.

Inducing Vomiting

If you have swallowed a large quantity of sunflower seed shells, inducing vomiting may be helpful. First, rinse out your mouth with water or milk to remove any pieces of shell and rinse them down the drain. Then take 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of salt and drink it down with a glass of water (8 ounces). If this does not cause vomiting within 15 minutes, repeat once more with another teaspoonful (5 mL). Do not try to induce vomiting if you are pregnant because it could harm your baby’s health.  Remove any remaining seeds from the mouth.

If You Feel Something Moving Through Your Body, Don’t Panic

If you’ve ever swallowed a sunflower seed shell, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Sometimes they can even get caught in your throat or wind up getting stuck somewhere weird.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help speed up the process and get rid of any unwanted foreign objects in your body.

If You Feel Something Moving Through Your Body, Don’t Panic

If you swallow a sunflower seed shell or any other small object, don’t panic. Most of the time they will pass through your digestive system without any problems whatsoever. It’s rare for something to get stuck inside of your body, but if it does happen there are things you can do to speed up the process.

First, make sure that the object is moving through your body and not just stuck in one spot (like your throat). If it’s not moving at all, there’s probably nothing you can do except wait for it to pass on its own. However, if it’s moving around somewhere inside of your digestive tract then there are steps you can take to help it along its way more quickly.


The sunflower seed in this case is what is called a foreign body. The sunflower seed shell is most likely to puncture an esophageal stricture if it’s small enough in size. Swallowing a sunflower seed shell is more dangerous than just swallowing an average sized one, because it has the potential to cause perforation of your esophagus, or damage some surrounding tissue. If the two halves of the shell join together around your esophagus on both sides after you’ve swallowed it, this can occur.