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Choking

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:47 pm
Choking can be a life-threatening situation, so it's wise to know basic first aid. If the person who's choking can still breathe, cough, and speak, don't try to intervene. Just stay with the person, and see if the object caught in the throat can be swallowed or ejected. However, if the throat's completely blocked, the person won't be able to speak, cough, or breathe. Emergency measures should be taken. For conscious adults, the best strategy is to perform a series of thrusts between the abdomen and diaphragm (DIE-uh-fram), known as the Heimlich (HIME-lick) maneuver. Basically, the procedure involves standing behind the person, and gently wrapping your arms around the midsection. Make a fist, leaving the thumb sticking up. Position your thumb above the person's navel. Using your other hand, grab the fist and thrust upward in rapid, vigorous motions, until the object comes up. If an adult who's choking has passed out, other techniques should be used, including opening the airway, attempting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and possibly doing chest compressions. The procedures for young children and infants are somewhat different. To learn more about proper techniques for choking victims of all ages, consult a health care professional. Also, ask a doctor to recommend a first aid class in your area, as these techniques require practice.
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