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The mechanical obstruction in the flow of air into the lung is termed as choking. This generally happens with children, though adults can also fall victims of it. Choking can be either partial, where the cause of choking partially blocks the air passage causing severe distress for the victim; or complete choking, where the air passage is completely obstructed leading to fatal consequences for the victim.

Choking Causes

Choking can be caused by various reasons, It might be unintentional, intentional, or due to lack of consciousness. Whatever be the reason, the outcome is same. The victim loses the ability to breathe properly, or breathe at all. The various causes for choking can be categorized as follows:

Introduction of foreign objects in the windpipe, which can block the pharynx, larynx or trachea, specially with children.

Choking in adults while eating.

Strangling and compression of pharynx, larynx or trachea.

Respiratory diseases.

Infections like epiglottitis and severe tonsillitis that leads to the swelling of the airway.

Symptoms of Choking

Choking can be recognised mainly through its symptoms since the victim most of the time loses his power to speak and explain the cause. The various marked signs of choking are small coughs and gasping and laboured breathing.

Struggling whispers and inability to speak or cry, Drooling and watering of the eye are the other major symptoms which are associated with choking. Flushed faces, cyanosis (Face turning blue) and loss of consciousness are the other major symptoms associated with choking.

Treatment for Choking

The person suffering from choking should be rendered immediate help to re-establish normal breathing, since a prolonged choking can stop the total flow of air in the lungs, and lead to fatal outcomes like death.

There are some modern protocols for first aiders, including those of the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross. But most of the procedures are similar with little variations. The procedures of treatment are as follows:

Removal of the object causing the choking if it is visible. Never ever try to find it by force.

The patient should be encouraged to cough.

If the irritant is some sort of liquid, then the patient should be given to drink water and clear the throat.

Give 5 to 20 hard blows with the heel of the hand at the upper back of the patient. This creates pressure behind the blockage thereby helping the patient to throw out the object.

Abdominal thrusts might be rendered in special cases, but this can be dangerous if not given in the proper way. This is also known as Heimlich Maneuver. In this the rescuer stands behind the patient and uses their hands to exert pressure at the lower end of the diaphragm. This creates compression in the lungs and exerts pressure on any object blocking the trachea, throwing it out.

Self treatment with the help of abdominal trusts.

Chest thrusts, specially in cases of pregnant women and obese individuals. Here the rescuers place their hand in the center of the chest rather than in the abdomen to compress.

CPR is advised by certain protocols if the patient becomes unconscious. Here a combination of abdominal thrusts and artificial respiration is used to remove either the full blockage, or partially to let the flow gases in the lungs.

Finger sweeping is recommended by some protocols, where the rescuer might use his fingers to remove the foreign object when it has already dislodged from its choking position. But this must be avoided as it might cause vomiting and even further damages. Therefore the patient should instead be placed in such a position as to dislodge the object due to gravity.

Severe cases where the object cannot be removed using the above procedures, then cricothyrotomy might be required.

Therefore these are the key procedures of rendering first aid to a victim of choking though severe aids like chest thrusts and abdominal thrusts should be given by trained rescuers only, because inefficiency in rendering these might lead to further complications.

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