- Choking refers to the reflex that is triggered when a substance obstructs the air passage and prevents air from entering a person’s lungs
- People are often seen choking when they try to talk and eat simultaneously
- The Heimlich Maneuver is the most effective technique to save a person who is choking
- The Heimlich Maneuver was introduced by Dr. Henry Heimlich
Imagine. You are enjoying a wonderful meal with your family while your four-year-old niece or nephew runs around being as naughty as he or she could be. Suddenly, there is an eerie silence. When you turn around, you notice the little child clutching his or her throat as if to get something out. He or she is not able to breathe and is uneasy. What do you do? Do you rush the child to the hospital immediately? Would you consider calling the pediatrician or would you try to tap the back or head with the assumption that the substance that is blocking the windpipe would pop-out instantly?
The answer is – First-aid followed by professional medical assistance. According to Dr. Dominic Mathew of the Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), Kottayam situated in the southern Indian state of Kerala, first-aid training can be administered by anyone. An AHA (American Hearts Association) certified first-aid instructor and an Anesthetist, Dr. Mathew believes that few simple techniques can save many lives faster and effectively.
One of the most common methods of first-aid care is the Heimlich Maneuver. Experts recommend this technique during those instances when a person is found to be choking.
What is choking?
We often see people choking when they try to talk and eat simultaneously. Some of the reasons behind choking include:
- Issues pertaining to the person’s dental hygiene
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Consuming large slices or pieces of eatables
- Accidental or unintentional consumption of small objects such as nuts, marbles, etc. This is often seen among children.
A few simple steps that could save a life
The most effective way of getting the person to cough the solid matter out is the Heimlich Maneuver. This method was first described by Dr. Henry Heimlich.
When a person is seen choking:
1. Call out to the person
2. Turn him or her around and ask the person to bend. If you see a child choking, kneel on one knee and place the child on your lap.
3. Tap the person on the back and see if the substance blocking the air passage pops out
4. If the substance does not pop, make a fist with one hand and place the other above it. The hands must be positioned above the navel. Note: In the case of obese persons and pregnant women, place the hands at the center of the chest.
5. Place one leg between the legs of the victim to ensure a certain degree of support in case he or she becomes unconscious. (You can avoid doing so in the case of children).
6. Give a few upward thrusts to help clear the air passage. In doing so, the solid particle that is obstructing the flow of air is likely to pop out.
In case, the patient becomes unconscious, administer CPR and call for professional medical assistance.