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Choking - adult or child over 1 year
Alternative namesHeimlich maneuver - adult or child over 1 year
Choking is when someone can't breathe because food, a toy, or other object is blocking the airway (throat or windpipe).
A choking person's airway may be completely or partially blocked. A complete blockage is an urgent medical emergency. A partial obstruction can quickly become life threatening if the person loses the ability to breathe in and out sufficiently.
Without oxygen, permanent brain damage can occur in as little as 4 minutes. Rapid first aid for choking can save a life.
The universal distress signal for choking is grabbing the throat with the hand .
Other danger signs include:
IF THE PERSON LOSES CONSCIOUSNESS
FOR PREGNANT OR OBESE PEOPLE
When the person is choking:
After the object is successfully dislodged, the person should see a doctor because complications can arise.
In the days following a choking episode, contact a doctor immediately if the person develops symptoms of wheezing , persistent cough, or pneumonia . These could indicate that the object entered the lung instead of being expelled.
Update Date: 9/26/2003A.D.A.M. editorial. Previously reviewed by Todd Severson, M.D., Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (2/18/2002).
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT