Choking In The Conscious Child

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Choking in a conscious child may occur when the upper airway, usually thethroat or windpipe, is blocked by an object or irritation.

What are the causes and risks of the injury?

Choking is usually caused by things that the child has placed in his or hermouth. These include toys, candy, popcorn, nuts, batteries, rocks, and buttons.Things that can wrap around the throat and constrict it, such as string or rope,can also cause choking.

Symptoms & Signs

What are the signs and symptoms of the injury?

Signs of choking in a conscious child include:

  • inability to breathe or cry
  • high-pitched voice or gurgling sounds
  • ineffective cough
  • bluish tint on face, hands, or feet
  • If the choking episode is left untreated, unconsciousness or death may follow.

    Diagnosis & Tests

    How is the injury recognized?

    Usually a person will notice that the child is having difficulty breathing.There may be a shocked, anxious look on the child’s face, and the child maybegin to turn blue.

    Prevention & Expectations

    What can be done to prevent the injury?

    Some cases of choking can be avoided by:

  • giving young children only age-appropriate toys
  • avoiding toys that break easily, have small parts, or have batteries
  • keeping foods such as popcorn, hot dogs, nuts, and seeds away from smallchildren
  • keeping buttons, watch batteries, coins, rocks, and any other smallhousehold items away from small children
  • keeping strings and ropes away from small children. Never tie a pacifierwith string to a child’s clothing. The string could get wrapped around thechild’s neck.
  • Treatment & Monitoring

    What are the treatments for the injury?

    If choking is suspected in a conscious child:

  • Nothing should be done if the child can still cough, breathe, or cry.
  • If the child is conscious, do not try to grasp any object lodged in thethroat, because this may push it down further.
  • No first aid steps should be started until it is certain that the child isactually choking. If the child is actually choking, coughing and crying will bevery weak or impossible, and the child’s distress will be very obvious.
  • If the person performing first aid is alone, he or she should shout for helpand begin first aid. If another person is there, he or she shouldcontact the emergency medicalsystem immediately.

    Performing the Heimlich maneuver with the child sitting or standing

  • Stand behind the child with arms wrapped around the waist.
  • Make a fist with one hand.
  • Place the thumb side of the fist against the child’s abdomen just above thenavel but well below the breastbone.
  • Grasp the fist with the other hand and press the fist into the child’sabdomen with a quick upward thrust.
  • Give up to 5 upward thrusts. Repeat until the object pops out or the childbecomes unconscious.
  • Each thrust should be a separate and distinct movement.
  • Performing the Heimlich maneuver with the child lying down

  • Place the child face up.
  • While kneeling, straddle the child’s thighs. Place the heel of one handagainst the child’s abdomen in the middle, slightly above the navel and wellbelow the breastbone.
  • Place the second hand directly on top of the first.
  • Press the abdomen with a quick upper thrust.
  • Do not try to remove an object from a conscious child’s mouth. This could pushthe object further into the throat.

    If the child becomes unconscious, begin first aid for choking in the unconscious child.

    What are the side effects of the treatments?

    The Heimlich maneuver can cause vomiting, injuries to internal organs, orbroken ribs. Vomiting can be a problem if the vomited material is caught in theairway and inhaled into the lungs.

    What happens after treatment for the injury?

    It is important for a child who has choked to obtain medical care from ahealthcare professional. Occasionally, an object will enter the lung insteadof being expelled. This can cause coughing, wheezing, or aspiration pneumonia.

    Article type: xmedgeneral