What To Do If Someone Chokes – Doctor


Knowing what to do immediately when someone chokes can make a difference between life and death.

This is because choking cuts off oxygen supply to the lungs and hence the brain


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Choking occurs when a foreign object lodges in the throat or windpipe, blocking the flow of air. In adults, a piece of food often is the culprit. Young children often swallow small objects.

The universal sign for choking is hands clutched to the throat. If the person doesn’t give the signal, look for these indications:

Inability to talk

Difficulty breathing or noisy breathing

Squeaky sounds when trying to breathe

Cough, which may either be weak or forceful

Skin, lips and nails turning blue or dusky

Skin that is flushed, then turns pale or bluish in color

Loss of consciousness


If the person is able to cough forcefully, the person should keep coughing. If the person is choking and can’t talk, cry or laugh forcefully, follow these “five-and-five” approach to delivering first aid:

Give 5 back blows. Stand to the side and just behind a choking adult. For a child, kneel down behind. Place one arm across the person’s chest for support. Bend the person over at the waist so that the upper body is parallel with the ground. Deliver five separate back blows between the person’s shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.


Give 5 abdominal thrusts. Perform five abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver). until the particle is dislodged.


To perform abdominal thrusts

Heimlich maneuver):


Stand behind the person. Place one foot slightly in front of the other for balance. Wrap your arms around the waist. Tip the person forward slightly. If a child is choking, kneel down behind the child.

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Make a fist with one hand. Position it slightly above the person’s navel.

Grasp the fist with the other hand. Press hard into the abdomen with a quick,upward thrust — as if trying to lift the person up.

Perform between six and 10 abdominal thrusts until the blockage is dislodged

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