Choking occurs when an object gets lodged in your throat, if it completely blocks your throat and can't get oxygen in your lungs. When you breathe in oxygen, your lungs move that oxygen to the blood cells that make it around the rest of your body.
You're in danger of asphyxiating or not getting enough oxygen to keep you from passing out and if you lose consciousness while you're asphyxiating, your brain might not get enough oxygen to function. It's called cerebral hypoxia. You can have severe brain injury or death.
Choking is the fourth cause of unintentional death. It results in about 5,000 deaths each year. As of 2018, the odds of dying from choking were 1:2700 so It's crucial know what to do with you or someone else is choking.
Choking can be terrifying. It's not as if you can reach down your throat and pull out the blockage. Here's what you should do:
Choking occurs in every age group. So, how can you tell if it's happening to someone else?
Look for their two hands to clasped around their throat. And if you're choking, try coughing while holding your throat. This signals to other people that you're in trouble. Other signs are wheezing, gagging or not being to speak, laugh or cough. Look for a very red face or blue lips.
These are easy signs to see in adults, but you'll need to watch children carefully. They might not know how to signal that they're choking. Watching for color change in the face or the lips could be the early sign you need to save their life.
But what if you're alone and you're choking? This is a scary situation, but there are three things that you can do to clear the blockage.
If that doesn't work, keep your hands in the same position and find a large sturdy chair. Lean quickly over the back of the chair, if there's no chair then use a countertop. This should give your diaphragm a stronger push and hopefully dislodge the blockage.
If you are the one choking or when you see someone else choking, then you will need to act very fast. Your brain can function with the oxygen that's in your lungs when you begin choking. But this only lasts for 4 to 6 minutes, after that your brain will start to be damaged by cerebral hypoxia.
After 10 minutes without oxygen, there will be irreversible brain damage.
Spotting or giving the signs that you're choking as early as possible may very will be the key to saving your life.
Here's how you can help another person who's choking:
First, there's the 5 and 5 method. Stand beside and just behind the person who is choking. Put one hand between their shoulder blades and your other hand on her chest to brace them. Bend over at the waist so they're parallel to the ground then hit them on the back with the heel of your palm for 5 times.
Then stand behind them and wrap your arms around their waist, make a fist and place it between their belly button and ribcage. Put your other hand on top of your fist then push your fist inward and upward. Do it hard and fast. This is called the Heimlich Maneuver.
The 5 and 5 method and Heimlich Maneuver may dislodge the blockage and keep these points in mind depending on the person you are trying to save.
If the victim is obese or pregnant, don't put your fist between their belly and their ribcage, instead place your fist at the base of their breastbone.
If a child is choking, the 5 and 5 method is the best. Sit down and place the child over your forearms so they're facing the floor. Firmly and gently give them five hits on the back. Turn the child around and place two fingers in the middle of their breastbone. Give them 5 compressions.
It's best to not to choke at all. So clean up your home to protect young children. Put away things like marbles, rocks, coins, pen caps and safety pins.
Sitting at the table to eat and cutting food into small manageable pieces can also reduce the risk of choking. Everyone needs to chew their food well too, don't eat quickly and don't eat facing down.
Lead Image: Menshealth.com