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What is choking?
What are the causes of choking?
What are the symptoms of choking?
What first aid can be provided?
Written by : DoctorNDTV Team
  • What is choking?

    Choking is suffocation caused by blockage of the windpipe. As a result, lungs do not get a sufficient supply of air for breathing. If this continues for some minutes, breathing and heart action can stop, and death may occur.
  • What are the causes of choking?

    Choking is most common in children. A marble, button or food may get in the air passage and cause blockage. In adults too, food may go down the wrong way (go into the windpipe instead of food pipe) and cause choking. The danger of choking increases if the person has been drinking alcohol and becomes careless about chewing food well. Other causes are:
    • Water going into the air passage as in drowning
    • Irritant gases such as motor exhaust, smoke, etc. getting into the air passage
    • Swelling of the tissues of the throat as a result of injury or burn
    • Hanging or applying pressure with fingers on the windpipe.
  • What are the symptoms of choking?

    The most common signs and symptoms of choking are:
    • Increase in the rate of breathing and the pulse
    • The breaths get shorter
    • The veins of the neck become swollen
    • Face, lips, nails, fingers and toes turn blue
    • The patient is unable to talk and may have forceful coughing
    • The patient may slowly become unconscious and faint
    • Froth may appear at the mouth and nostrils
    • Fits may occur.
  • What first aid can be provided?

    If a person is able to breathe and cough, he should try to cough out the obstructing object. If the patient is unable to breathe properly and is turning blue, then the following should be carried out stepwise:
    • The patient should be made to lean forward slightly and the first aid provider should stand behind him
    • A fist should be made with one hand
    • The arms should be put around the person and the fist held with the other hand near the top of the stomach, just below the centre of the rib cage
    • A quick, hard movement inward and upward is made
    • The movement should be repeated to help the patient throw out the blocked object
    The patient should be rushed to the doctor if the above mentioned exercise does not help.

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