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First Aid for Choking



Choking refers to the blockage of the respiratory passage or the airway by some foreign body, more often due to the food particles. This block in the airway cuts off the supply of fresh air and oxygen which leads to difficulty in breathing and ultimately the respiratory distress occurs. Such events of choking are more pronounced among the children; there occurs the dislodgement of some small foreign objects which creates the trouble to their air passage.

If the supply of oxygen is not restored, the brain becomes devoid of the oxygen which may even cause death of the patient; this calls for the first aid management when you are witnessing the event of the choking.

The sign indicative of choking is either the person tells “something has stuck into the throat” or he will direct or point the clutched hands over the throat.
In some cases the person may become unconscious or verbally unresponsive.

Manage the choking as follows:

If the victim is verbally responding (can speak), cough, breathe, and stand by:
it means the foreign body is not interfering much: you can direct the person if he understands, to gently force it out.

If the victim has difficulty in breathing, speaking, coughing, etc.: call the emergency services; call 911.

If the victim is conscious:

Practice the “five and five” approach:

Deliver the first five quick and hard blows on the back of the person in between the shoulders using the heels of the hands.

Secondly, perform the “Heimlich manoeuvre” i.e. the five abdominal thrusts.

Abdominal thrusts can be given as explained below:

Position yourself behind the victim.
Hold the victim by wrapping your hands around his abdomen. Have the victim to lean forward slightly.
With your one hand make a tight fist. Place it slightly above the victim’s navel.
Now hold that fist with the other hand tightly.
Press hard against the victim’s abdomen using the tightly grasped fist; with upward thrusts as if you are lifting the person.
In this way, perform five abdominal thrusts. If still foreign object is not dislodged, you can repeat the manoeuvre.

If the victim becomes unconscious:

You may need to contact the emergency department and try out certain measures to dislodge the foreign objects.
Try out the same manoeuvres as described earlier. In addition, you need to clear the person’s airway and mouth and try to dislodge the foreign body using the hand, if accessible.
Repeat the steps until the food or and other foreign substance remains dislodged.
Perform the CPR. Do the mouth to mouth respirations to save the person’s life.
Seek medical help immediately.

This site provides you with the general guidelines and information regarding the first aid measures for the various conditions or health related problems. It is not a substitute for the medical advice or the formal first aid training. It will not be responsible or liable in case one tries to make diagnosis based on the provided information. You always need to consult the doctor and emergency department in case of all the serious emergencies rather than just relying upon the supposed guidelines.