Alen J

Choking First Aids


"Choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury death in US. Of the 4,864 people who died from choking in 2013, 2,751 were older than 75. " -  NSC.ORG

The most common cause for choking is an obstruction in the trachea (called the windpipe) with food particles.  A person suffering from choking may show following symptoms:

  • Coughing or gagging
  • Hand signals and panic (sometimes pointing to the throat)
  • Sudden inability to talk
  • Clutching the throat - the “Universal Choking Sign”
  • Wheezing 
  • Turning blue: Cyanosis, a blue coloring to the skin, can be seen earliest around the face, lips, and fingernail beds.
  • Difficulty in breathing

We will discuss emergency steps to be taken based on the victims age group. 


Choking (both small and serious) is a common in young babies, primarily because their small airways are small and inability to cough forcefully to dislodge an airway obstruction.

Emergency Steps:

1) Hold your baby face down on one of your forearms. 
2) The baby's head should be lower than his or her body. 
3) Then thump your baby firmly on the middle of the back using the heel of your other hand. 
4) The combination of gravity and the force from your hand will help dislodge the object that's blocking your baby's airway.


Choking in children most often occurs when food is not chewed properly. Talking or laughing while eating may cause a piece of food to "go down the wrong pipe."

Emergency Steps:

1) Cough - A sudden rough cough will be enough to dislodge the blockage from the throat. 
2) Back blows – Lean the kid forward by providing support with one hand and firmly strike the child between the shoulder blades with the heel of your other hand. 
3) Chest and Abdominal trusts – Wrap the child from the back and make a fist with one hand just above the navel and the belly button. Grab your fist with your other hand and give five quick, upward thrusts into the abdomen. 
4) Repeat back blows and abdominal trusts 5 times each.


Choking in adults is caused when he/she is attempting to swallow huge pieces of poorly chewed food. Mostly coughs while swallowing food are culprits in causing serious death for adults.

Emergency Steps:

1) HEIMLICH MANEUVER: Heimlich maneuver also known as abdominal trusts are an emergency technique for preventing suffocation when a person's airway (windpipe) becomes blocked by a piece of food or other object. To perform this, wrap your hands firmly around the person above his navel and hold the fist with the other hand, tipping the person forward give abdominal trusts. This helps in dislodging the food obstructing the airway.

2) SELF HELP: This mechanism is usually followed when the choking victim doesn’t have any immediate help surrounding him. In such a case, the victim shall place himself against a strong object or furniture with a closed fist covered with his other hand and start giving upward thrusts leaning against the object.

Article Contributed by - Pavithraa Swaminathan