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Abdominal thrusts

Choking - Heimlich maneuver

Choking is when someone is having a very hard time breathing because food, a toy, or other object is blocking the throat or windpipe (airway).

A choking person's airway may be blocked so that not enough oxygen reaches the lungs. Without oxygen, brain damage can occur in as little as 4 to 6 minutes. Rapid first aid for choking can save a person's life.

Abdominal thrusts is an emergency technique to help clear someone's airway.

  • The procedure is done on someone who is choking and also conscious.
  • Most experts do not recommend abdominal thrusts for infants less than 1 year old.
  • You can also perform the maneuver yourself.

First Aid

First ask, "Are you choking? Can you speak?" DO NOT perform first aid if the person is coughing forcefully and is able to speak. A strong cough can often dislodge the object.

If the person is choking, perform abdominal thrusts as follows:

  • If the person is sitting or standing, position yourself behind the person and reach your arms around his or her waist. For a child, you may have to kneel.
  • Place your fist, thumb side in, just above the person's navel (belly button).
  • Grasp the fist tightly with your other hand.
  • Make quick, upward and inward thrusts with your fist.
  • If the person is lying on his or her back, straddle the person facing the head. Push your grasped fist upward and inward in a movement similar to the one above.

You may need to repeat the procedure several times before the object is dislodged. If repeated attempts do not free the airway, call 911.

If the person loses consciousness, start CPR.

If you are not comfortable performing abdominal thrusts, you can perform back blows instead on a person who is choking.

References

American Red Cross. First Aid/CPR/AED Participant's Manual. 2nd ed. Dallas, TX: American Red Cross; 2014.

Berg RA, Hemphill R, Abella BS, et al. Part 5: Adult basic life support: 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care. Circulation. 2010;122(18 Supple 3):S685-705. PMID: 20956221 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20956221.

Thomas SH, Goodloe JM. Foreign bodies. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 60.

    • Heimlich maneuver on adult

      Heimlich maneuver on adult - illustration

      Choking is fairly common. Choking deaths occur most commonly in children less than 3 years old and in senior citizens, but can occur at any age. The Heimlich maneuver has been valuable in saving lives and can be administered by anyone who has learned the technique.

      Heimlich maneuver on adult

      illustration

    • Heimlich maneuver on infant

      Heimlich maneuver on infant - illustration

      Choking is fairly common. Choking deaths occur most commonly in children less than 3 years old and in senior citizens, but can occur at any age. The Heimlich maneuver has been valuable in saving lives and can be administered by anyone who has learned the technique.

      Heimlich maneuver on infant

      illustration

    • Choking

      Choking - illustration

      Choking is the hindrance of breathing due to an obstruction of the throat or windpipe. The Heimlich maneuver should be conducted to try to dislodge the object.

      Choking

      illustration

    • Heimlich maneuver on an adult

      Heimlich maneuver on an adult - illustration

      Choking is fairly common. Choking deaths occur most commonly in children less than 3 years old and in senior citizens, but can occur at any age. The Heimlich maneuver has been valuable in saving lives and can be administered by anyone who has learned the technique.

      Heimlich maneuver on an adult

      illustration

    • Heimlich maneuver on conscious child

      Heimlich maneuver on conscious child - illustration

      Choking is fairly common. Choking deaths occur most commonly in children less than 3 years old and in senior citizens, but can occur at any age. The Heimlich maneuver has been valuable in saving lives and can be administered by anyone who has learned the technique.

      Heimlich maneuver on conscious child

      illustration

    • Heimlich maneuver on conscious child

      Heimlich maneuver on conscious child - illustration

      Choking is fairly common. Choking deaths occur most commonly in children less than 3 years old and in senior citizens, but can occur at any age. The Heimlich maneuver has been valuable in saving lives and can be administered by anyone who has learned the technique.

      Heimlich maneuver on conscious child

      illustration

    • Heimlich maneuver on infant

      Heimlich maneuver on infant - illustration

      Choking is fairly common. Choking deaths occur most commonly in children less than 3 years old and in senior citizens, but can occur at any age. The Heimlich maneuver has been valuable in saving lives and can be administered by anyone who has learned the technique.

      Heimlich maneuver on infant

      illustration

    • Heimlich maneuver on infant

      Heimlich maneuver on infant - illustration

      Choking is fairly common. Choking deaths occur most commonly in children less than 3 years old and in senior citizens, but can occur at any age. The Heimlich maneuver has been valuable in saving lives and can be administered by anyone who has learned the technique.

      Heimlich maneuver on infant

      illustration

      • Heimlich maneuver on adult

        Heimlich maneuver on adult - illustration

        Choking is fairly common. Choking deaths occur most commonly in children less than 3 years old and in senior citizens, but can occur at any age. The Heimlich maneuver has been valuable in saving lives and can be administered by anyone who has learned the technique.

        Heimlich maneuver on adult

        illustration

      • Heimlich maneuver on infant

        Heimlich maneuver on infant - illustration

        Choking is fairly common. Choking deaths occur most commonly in children less than 3 years old and in senior citizens, but can occur at any age. The Heimlich maneuver has been valuable in saving lives and can be administered by anyone who has learned the technique.

        Heimlich maneuver on infant

        illustration

      • Choking

        Choking - illustration

        Choking is the hindrance of breathing due to an obstruction of the throat or windpipe. The Heimlich maneuver should be conducted to try to dislodge the object.

        Choking

        illustration

      • Heimlich maneuver on an adult

        Heimlich maneuver on an adult - illustration

        Choking is fairly common. Choking deaths occur most commonly in children less than 3 years old and in senior citizens, but can occur at any age. The Heimlich maneuver has been valuable in saving lives and can be administered by anyone who has learned the technique.

        Heimlich maneuver on an adult

        illustration

      • Heimlich maneuver on conscious child

        Heimlich maneuver on conscious child - illustration

        Choking is fairly common. Choking deaths occur most commonly in children less than 3 years old and in senior citizens, but can occur at any age. The Heimlich maneuver has been valuable in saving lives and can be administered by anyone who has learned the technique.

        Heimlich maneuver on conscious child

        illustration

      • Heimlich maneuver on conscious child

        Heimlich maneuver on conscious child - illustration

        Choking is fairly common. Choking deaths occur most commonly in children less than 3 years old and in senior citizens, but can occur at any age. The Heimlich maneuver has been valuable in saving lives and can be administered by anyone who has learned the technique.

        Heimlich maneuver on conscious child

        illustration

      • Heimlich maneuver on infant

        Heimlich maneuver on infant - illustration

        Choking is fairly common. Choking deaths occur most commonly in children less than 3 years old and in senior citizens, but can occur at any age. The Heimlich maneuver has been valuable in saving lives and can be administered by anyone who has learned the technique.

        Heimlich maneuver on infant

        illustration

      • Heimlich maneuver on infant

        Heimlich maneuver on infant - illustration

        Choking is fairly common. Choking deaths occur most commonly in children less than 3 years old and in senior citizens, but can occur at any age. The Heimlich maneuver has been valuable in saving lives and can be administered by anyone who has learned the technique.

        Heimlich maneuver on infant

        illustration

      Review Date: 4/12/2015

      Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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