Choking occurs when food or other objects block the flow of air to the lungs making breathing difficult. In most cases, the person who is choking can cough up the object. If this does not occur, then it can become a serious situation.
The causes of choking can include:
• eating or drinking too quickly,
• not chewing food sufficiently,
• swallowing small objects.
Would you know how to manage a situation where someone is choking?
Signs and symptoms of choking maybe:
• clutching the throat,
• coughing, wheezing, gagging,
• having difficulty speaking or swallowing,
• making strange sounds or no sounds at all,
• making a whistling or ‘crowing’ noise,
• face, neck, lips, ears, fingernails turning blue.
If someone is choking:
• ask them to cough up the obstruction.
If coughing fails to clear the airway,* deliver 5 back blows:
1. Bend patient forward.
2. Give up to 5 sharp blows to the middle of the back, checking after each blow to check if airway has been cleared.
3. If the back blows do not clear the blockage, try chest thrusts.
Give 5 chest thrusts:
1. Place one hand in middle of the back.
2. Place other hand in the middle of the chest and give 5 sharp chest thrusts, checking after each thrust to check if airway has been cleared.
If chest thrusts do not work, alternate between 5 back blows and 5 chest thrusts until medical help arrives.
• Call triple zero (000) if coughing does not remove the blockage, or if patient is an infant.
• If patient becomes unconscious call triple zero (000) for an ambulance, remove visible obstruction from mouth and commence CPR.