Choking on something can be a medical emergency is some situations where the patient’s airway is blocked or they end up gasping. When not attended to, choking could possibly result in a non-responsive state and end up being fatal.
The most common way to recognize choking is if the person puts their hands on their neck ie. the universal distress signal or if you see them struggling to breathe or turning blue from lack of oxygen. If the person is already unconscious you need to act fast.
If you suspect that someone is choking, ask them first. If there’s no response or the patient signals the need for help, do not hesitate to do your bit.
CPR and lifesaving techniques vary slightly from children to adults. A few reasons for the variance being the shock resistance and the size/ability to withstand pressure. In infants especially, it is difficult to determine the nature of emergency help required.
Steps to rescue a choking incident on an adult:
The Heimlich maneuver is a safe method to give emergency first aid to an adult or child who is choking. You don’t need to be trained in a professional paramedical course to perform this lifesaving technique.
It involves the usage of abdominal thrusts creating a recoil and forcing the victim to spit out the object that is blocking the airway.
The simple steps involved in this procedure are:
- Stand behind the victim
- Put your arms around his/her stomach
- Ball your hand into a fist and place the other hand over this
- Place this between the belly button and rib cage
- Give sharp, quick thrusts till the object is expelled (or until the victim can breathe normally)
In some situations, the patient may lose consciousness after these steps. If this occurs, make the victim lie on a flat service and start CPR immediately. Delaying CPR may result in death.
Continue with CPR till help arrives.
For infants or babies :
In babies, a method called the finger sweep method is employed to dislodge the foreign object that is blocking the airway.
In this method, the jaw is opened by the rescue person and the foreign object is removed using a finger.
If choking is suspected in an infant or baby, check for signs of response. If there aren’t any, proceed with the below steps.
Do not move or shake the child, you may be causing more damage in doing so.
If the infant is conscious :
- Place the child over your forearm with the head lower than the body so that it’s easier for the object to fall out
- Give 5-6 firm but not rough blows between the shoulder blades
- Turn the child around and repeat this on the chest but with care to not touch the tip of the sternum
- Repeat these steps alternately till the child loses consciousness
If the infant is unconscious :
- Gently place one hand on the forehead and the other on the jaw to open the jaw
- If you can see the object, gently remove it
- Perform rescue breaths to help dislodge the object (only for trained persons)
- If the object is still not seen, continue with the back and chest thrusts till the object becomes visible
Do not attempt blind finger sweeping in children below eight years of age. The object should be visible for you to try and take it out.
After this procedure, if the child loses consciousness, perform CPR till breathing has been revived.
Do remember that while performing a finger sweep you need to be careful to not injure the victim. It is also important that in the case of an infant, the neck and head need to be well supported before attempting to open the airway or jaw.
Choking can be a common occurrence in households, sometimes developing into something more serious when breathing is hampered or the airway is completely blocked resulting in a non-responsive state.
It helps to be vigilant to ensure that no one’s hurt.[/vc_column][/vc_row]