Choking is a common cause of accidental death and often preventable. Objects such as food, candy or small objects can easily become lodged in the airway if they are accidentally ‘breathed in’ rather than swallowed.
Signs and symptoms of choking
- Unable to speak or cough
- Grasping or pointing to the throat
- Distressed look on the face
- First aid treatment of choking
Encourage the patient to cough, If the choking is only mild, this will clear the obstruction and the patient should be able to speak to you.
If the obstruction is not cleared:
Give back blows
Call for help, but don’t leave the patient yet.
Bend them forward so the head is lower than the chest. For a smaller child, you can place them over your knee to do this.
Give up to 5 firm blows between the shoulder blades with the palm of your hand. Check between blows and stop if you clear the obstruction.
If the obstruction is still not cleared:
Give abdominal thrusts
- Stand behind the person and wrap your arms around the waist.
- Place your clenched fist just above the person’s navel. Grab your fist with your other hand.
- Quickly pull inward and upward as if trying to lift the person up.
- Perform a total of 5 abdominal thrusts.
- If the blockage is still not dislodged, continue cycles of 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts until the object is coughed up or the person starts to breathe or cough.
- Take the object out of his mouth only if you can see it. Never do a finger sweep unless you can see the object in the person’s mouth
Give CPR, if necessary
If the obstruction comes out, but the person is becomes unconscious, begin CPR.
Continue CPR until medical personnel arrives.