Facts about choking, and what to do

choking

Each year, thousands of people all around the world die from asphyxia as a result of choking.

This number is mostly made up of the elderly and unfortunate choking incidents involving children. Of the 5 051 people who died from choking in 2015, some 2848 were older than 74 years of age, reports Injury Facts Book, published in 2017.

However, there are many ways to either avoid choking or to save the life of someone who is choking.

What is choking?

Choking is a life-threatening medical emergency; which occurs when a person has an obstruction in his or her throat that prevents that person from breathing air into the lungs.

According to Wikipedia, deaths from choking usually affect children under the age of one year.

Obstruction of the airway can occur at the level of the pharynx or the trachea.

Foods that can change their shape to that of the pharynx, such as bananas or marsh mallows, are dangerous for all age groups and should be thoroughly chewed before swallowed.

Choking is one type of airway obstruction, which includes any blockage of the air passages, including blockage due to tumours, swelling of the airway tissues, compression of the laryngopharynx, larynx or vertebrate trachea (windpipe) in strangulation, the article continues.

What is the Heimlich manoeuvre?

When someone is choking, the most well-known method of dislodging the obstruction in the throat is known as the Heimlich manoeuvre. This only works if the object causing the choking is a foreign object and not a growth that cannot be expelled.

The Heimlich manoeuvre is a first-aid procedure to dislodge an obstruction from a person’s windpipe in which a sudden strong pressure is applied on his/her abdomen, between the navel and the ribcage.

The term Heimlich manoeuvre is named after Doctor Henry Heimlich, who first described it in 1974.

The abdominal thrusts needed to execute the procedure have the person performing the rescue standing behind a patient who is choking.

The rescuer uses his/her hands to exert pressure on the bottom of the diaphragm. This compresses the lungs and exerts pressure on any object lodged in the trachea, hopefully expelling it.

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