If you swallow a foreign object, it will usually pass through your digestive system uneventfully. But some objects can lodge in the tube that connects your throat and stomach (esophagus). If an object is stuck in your esophagus, you may need to have it removed, especially if it is:
If the person is able to cough forcefully, the person should keep coughing. If the person is choking and cannot talk, cry or laugh forcefully, the Red Cross recommends a "five-and-five" approach to delivering first aid:
If you're the only rescuer, perform back blows and abdominal thrusts before calling 911 or your local emergency number for help. If another person is available, have that person call for help while you perform first aid.
If the person who has swallowed an object becomes unconscious, lay the person on his or her back on the ground. If you can see an object in the mouth, reach a finger in and sweep the object out. Be careful not to push it deeper into the airway. If the object remains stuck and the person doesn't respond to your efforts, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
The American Heart Association does not teach the back-blow technique, only the abdominal thrust procedures. It's OK not to use back blows if you have not learned the back-blow technique. Both approaches are acceptable.
A modified version of the technique is sometimes taught for use with people who are pregnant or obese. The rescuer places his or her hand in the center of the chest to compress, rather than in the abdomen.
If you're choking and alone, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. You can't perform back blows on yourself. But you can perform abdominal thrusts.
To prepare yourself for these situations, learn the Heimlich maneuver and CPR in a certified first-aid training course.
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