Choking In The Unconscious Adult

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Choking in an unconscious adult may occur when the upper airway,usually the throat or windpipe, is blocked by an object orirritation.

What are the causes and risks of the injury?

Choking is more likely if a person:

  • swallows large, poorly chewed pieces of food
  • drinks too much alcohol
  • wears poorly fitting dentures
  • talks or laughs while eating
  • Symptoms & Signs

    What are the signs and symptoms of the injury?

    Signs and symptoms of choking in an unconscious adult include:

  • unconsciousness
  • lack of breathing
  • inability to move air in or out of the lungs, even withassistance
  • Diagnosis & Tests

    How is the injury recognized?

    An adult who is unconscious as a result of choking will be unresponsive. The rescuerwill be unable to push air into the lungs with mouth-to-mouth breathing.Bystanders may report an episode of choking, followed by unconsciousness.

    Prevention & Expectations

    What can be done to prevent the injury?

    In many cases, choking can be prevented by:

  • cutting food into small pieces and chewing slowly
  • avoiding laughing and talking while chewing
  • drinking alcohol only inmoderation
  • wearing properly fitting dentures
  • Treatment & Monitoring

    What are the treatments for the injury?

    First aid for an unconscious adult who has choked includes the following:

  • Check for signs of circulation, such as normal breathing, coughing, ormovement in response to stimulation.
  • Contact the emergency medicalsystem immediately.
  • Start cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, if the person stops breathing.Use 15 chest compressions for every 2 mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths.
  • If the person starts breathing, place him or her in a side-lying positionand monitor closely.
  • Stay with the person until medical help arrives.
  • What are the side effects of the treatments?

    The chest compressions of CPR can cause vomiting, injuries to internal organs,or broken ribs. Vomiting can be a problem if the vomit is caught in the airwayand inhaled into the lungs. There is a possibility that none of the procedures may work, and the person maystill choke, remain unconscious, or even die.

    What happens after treatment for the injury?

    It is important to obtain medical care from a healthcareprofessional. Occasionally, an object will enter the lung instead of beingexpelled. This can cause coughing,wheezing, or aspiration pneumonia.

    Article type: xmedgeneral