What to do when choking?

Incidents are common in everyday life. Choking when eating something is not uncommon, but when the situation gets worse, attitudes must be taken so that the worst does not occur. A few simple steps taken at the moment can save the victim’s life.

The problem happens when instead of going down the digestive tract the food or liquid seems to get stuck in the throat. Reddened face, excessive coughing and shortness of breath are the characteristic signs that something has entered the wrong channel and the body is trying to eliminate the problem.

Usually the situation is overcome by this reaction of the organism, but when this does not occur, it is necessary to intervene and help the choked person . At this time, no food or liquid should be given to her, as besides not helping, they can still worsen the condition.

Why does it happen?

Although choking is more common in the elderly and children, no person is free from danger. This problem occurs when the epiglottis mechanism fails.

Located in the throat, this structure is a kind of cover. With involuntary movements it directs the air and food that pass through the pharynx to different channels. Choking happens when this action occurs in the wrong way.

First aid

In adults

In adults, some of the most frequent causes of suffocation are chicken bones, fruit pits, poorly chewed foods, poorly placed dental prostheses and fish bones.

What to do?

  • The victim must stand up and the person who is going to help him stand behind him.
  • The abdomen must be pressed with both hands.

The same procedure can be done in cases of suffocation by older children.

In children

Children require special attention when it comes to choking. Candies, peanuts and popcorn are some of the most common foods that cause suffocation in them, so they should be avoided.

Marbles, batteries, buttons, screws, toy pieces, coins and batteries are the objects most swallowed by them and which lead to the problem. For this to not happen it is important to keep them out of the reach of the little ones.


When it comes to babies, a previous analysis needs to be done: if there is cough and retching, intervention may not be necessary. The simple act performed by the organism will solve the problem.

However, if the baby is unable to cry or cough, it is because the airways are blocked, a situation which will need help to get breathing back to normal. It is important to note that it is not recommended to place your hand directly on the child’s mouth.

– The baby should be placed on his stomach, supported by the forearm. The palm of the hand must support the neck and the head, which must be at a lower level than the rest of the body;

– The other hand should give constant, but not too strong, slaps on the child’s back;

It is important to be aware of breathing and crying, signs that she has disengaged and the procedure can be interrupted.


If first aid does not resolve, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. The victim must be taken immediately to the emergency room. If there are no units nearby, the emergency services Samu (192) or Firefighters (193) must be called.