How do some people have greater tendency to choke than others?
Yes. People who eat rapidly and those who talk with food in their mouth are much more likely to choke than who eat slowly and keep their mouths closed while chewing.
Are children particularly prone to choking?
Yes, because they do not observe the cautions described above. Also, they frequently put coins or other foreign bodies in their mouths.
Do elderly people have tendency toward choking on food?
Yes, because the swallowing mechanism in older people doesn’t often work as well as it does in younger people.
What normally prevents choking on food?
The epiglottis in the throat moves to close over the entrance to the trachea (windpipe) during the act of swallowing. This prevents liquids and solids from gaining access to the trachea, bronchial tubes, and lungs.
What are the common causes of the epiglottis not working during the swallowing process?
A sudden cough or sneeze may prevent the epiglottis from shutting off the trachea, thus allowing food or liquid to enter it.
Do most people recover spontaneously from choking?
Yes. In the great majority of instances they cough out the liquid or food that has “Gone down the wrong way”.
What first–aid measures should be given someone who is choking on food or some other ingested object?
Strenuous coughing should be encouraged. A few sharp slaps on the back of the chest may aid in the expulsion of the food. If the victim is a child, hold him upside down and give him a few sharp slaps on the back. If the obstructing object is not expelled, place an index finger in the back of the throat. This frequently dislodges the foreign body. If the above measures fail, the Heimlich maneuver should be carried out promptly. Time should not be wasted in repeating the above measures if they are not immediately successful.
How is the Heimlich maneuver performed?
The victim raised to his feet. The first–abider stands behind him and places both arms about the victim’s waist at a level just below the rib cage. The right fist is placed high up in the abdomen, just below the breastbone. The right fist is firmly grasped with the left hand. The victim is held tightly. With a sudden inward and upward thrust, the grip on the victim is tightened as forcefully as possible. This will cause a sudden, tremendous increase of pressure within the victim’s chest cavity and will force air–along with the foreign body or food–out of the windpipe. If the first thrust fails to clear the windpipe, repeat the maneuver. Remember the thrust must be a quick & instantaneousness. Release your grip once the thrust has been carried out.
Does the Heimlich maneuver work?
Yes, in the vast majority of cases.
Is a tracheotomy ever indicated if all other methods fail to relieve the choking?
Yes, but it should not be done by an inexperienced layman. If a physician is available, or an experienced paramedic is the only one available, it may be performed on a victim who is obviously choking to death.
How can one tell if a victim is choking to death?
If he is unable to breathe at all, has turned blue, and his heart action becomes irregular, he will probably die within a few minutes.
What is done when the patient can breathe but has not expelled the obstructing food or other object?
He should be transported as soon as possible, is a semi–sitting position, to the nearest doctor or hospital.