First Aid: How to Help a Choking Victim

Table of Contents


Choking will have to be understood, after understanding what goes on in a person’s throat in a day. The larynx is the passage way that permits the entry of the food you eat and air you breathe into your body. The pipe called the esophagus allows foods and liquids, which leads them to the stomach. The pipe called the trachea or windpipe allows the air to go down to the lungs. At the back of your throat, you will find that both the trachea and the esophagus share an opening into the gullet and the lungs respectively. How then does food know what pipe leads to the stomach and not the lungs, if the two pipes share an opening? There is an epiglottis, which is a piece of cartilage. The epiglottis is always in active action every time you swallow. It was well made, because it works like a door. When you swallow food, it closes down the entrance to the trachea for food to go straight to the stomach. At times when you do things like laughing with food in your mouth, it takes a little bit of time to respond, and so you find yourself coughing to force it back out. This is where choking comes in from, if you find someone who is unable to breathe or talk, it really means that the food has blocked his/her trachea or windpipe. The person will be unable to say anything, but you should be fast to realize what is happening. The patient will either wave their hands vigorously or hold on to their throats. At this point, coughing the food out cannot help remove the food. Most people think that choking might not be an emergency, but it is a severe emergency because the patient can be unconscious, sustain brain damage or even death within minutes (Cronan 1). This paper will be looking at risks of choking and how to handle when someone who is choking.

Main body

Finding out how possible it is for a person to choke that easily, what happens next? According to the American Red Cross, 3,000 people die cause of choking. When you see someone choking you should respond immediately because they say that you might be dead in 4-6 minutes. The National Institutes of Health, they encourage people to be fast in their actions, the first thing to ask the person whose choking whether their choking or not. The choking person will definitely find it hard to respond verbally, but might be struggling to cough vigorously. The response that you might get from the patient is probably nodding his/her head to show that he is choking for real. A choking victim is not necessary for professional help, but just to be on the safe side 911 should be at least called to be around the area just incase it goes further than that. If you happen to be the one observing a choking person, you should really remain calm, but respond hastily. Adults choking might be because of eating fast, not properly chewing food or “eating on the go”; for the a bit older people, they might choke for the poor fitting dentures, having swallowing disorders or even physical problems. For children, their choking is during playtime or snack times, and this happens when they are unsupervised (Hering 1).

When you come across someone who is choking, it is well advised that you should stay as calm as possible. Be confident with what you will be asking and doing to them. It will not be the right time to start thinking what people might be thinking of you. Take authority and try to help him, by telling him to try to cough. While he tries to cough, you should slap (hard blows) with the upper back around 5 to 20 times, but for children you should of course handle in care. That might or might not help. If that completely fails, try doing the abdominal thrusts. The abdominal thrust might cause damage like crushing ribs or bruising, so you should properly apply it in the right area. Stand behind the patient, exerting pressure with your hands on the bottom of the diaphragm. Forcing out the food, you need to compress the lungs and exerting an upward pressure on the thing that has been stuck in the trachea. For pregnant women, there is different procedure called the chest thrusts, and the only different thing you do is placing your hands on the chest than the abdomen. If a patient happens to be unconscious, you should do a CPR. The CPR should contain of chest compression and artificial respiration. When the patient becomes conscious, then you should turn the patient and allow gravity to do the remainder. Vomiting will also help the problem out. All that is for adults only, for children is different (Vikle 1).

Children are very different from adults when they choke. A baby might be unable to cry or cough. Make the baby lie on his/her face down on your thighs, and make sure the head is low but support it. Between the shoulder blades, give the baby five solid slaps. After each slap, you should stop to be checking whether it is blocked or not. After it is cleared, open the babies mouth to remove the foods. It at all the air way might be still blocked, and then you should go ahead and do five chest thrusts. Again you should stop after a chest thrust to check if is unblocked (“What should I”1). To avoid a child choking, parents should make sure not to give their children things like peanuts, not to allow their children to eat while playing, avoid rough foods and just teach them how to chew carefully (Shelov 454).


Who could have ever thought that over 3,000 people die of choking, and the biggest percentages are the children? Choking is one thing that someone can try to avoid, unless it is happening because of the health issues, especially the older age group. For the parents with their infants in the house, that house should be properly child proved, and no small objects are laid on the floor just like that. We should also have the interest to know a little bit of first aid skills with us, because what if it happened to your friend at a restaurant while having lunch. It is even advisable for parents and caretakers to be taught the Heimlich maneuver. Heimlich maneuver is the emergency procedure that you do to someone when they have chocked. Community centers, Red Cross or YMCA’s might be training for basic first aid skills like helping someone while choking (Sisk 1). Chocking might seem like a joke, but it will not be funny anymore when some one dies from choking.

Works Cited

Cronan, Kate. Choking. Nemours. 2010. Web.

Hering, Beth. Learn How to Help a Choking Victim. CharityGuide. 2007. Web.

Shelov, Steven. Caring for you baby and young child: birth to age 5. Oxford University Press, 1997. Web.

Siski, Stevens. What should I do when a child is choking? NHS. 2009. Web.

Vikle, Gary M., et al. “Airway Obstruction in Children Aged Less than Five Years: The Prehospital Experience.” Prehospital Emergency Care 8 (2004): 196–99.

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