Any object that obstructs the flow of air into the lungs may result in respiratory distress or death so rapid removal of such an obstruction is absolute. Numerous objects may cause an obstruction, such as teeth or a mouth guard. Any swelling of soft tissues in and around the upper airway or the tongue may cause obstruction by falling backward in the throat of an unconscious person lying on his or her back or side. Obstruction may be partial and person can still get some air into the lungs or it may be complete with a total obstruction.
Partial Obstruction. Swelling of the soft tissue in and around the neck, or compression of the trachea, usually causes this type of obstruction. A foreign object may also be responsible. The person will be in distress with wheezing and strong efforts to breath. Allow the person to sit up if he or he wants to. Encourage person to cough forcefully in an attempt to dislodge the object and give oxygen if available. Performing a Heimlich Maneuver (see below) on the person may clear the object from the airway. Have person transported as soon as possible to a hospital for more immediate and definitive treatment.
- Complete Obstruction. With this type of obstruction, the person usually grasps his throat with his fingers and thumbs and will not be able to breath, talk, or cough. Without help, the person he will soon lose consciousness and die.
- What do you do when you are confronted with this situation?
- Ask person "ARE YOU CHOKING?" If person cannot answer, it means he or she cannot talk. Perform the Heimlich Maneuver on the person. Move behind the person and place your arms around his or her waist. Form a fist with one hand so that its thumb rests in person's abdomen just above the navel, but well below the ribcage. Grab your fist with your other hand and perform a sudden inward and upward abdominal thrust. If the obstruction is not immediately relieved, perform up to five such thrusts until the obstruction is cleared or the person become unconscious.
- For an Unconscious Obstructed Airway Person
- An unconscious person lying on his or her back cannot control his or her neck position and most of the time the neck is flexed and causing the tongue to falling back, blocking the throat. Therefore, the first thing to do when attending to an unconscious, unresponsive person is to tilt the head backward. Make 5 attempts at rescue breathing to ventilate the person. If unsuccessful, kneel astride (straddle position) the person's thighs and place the palm of one hand in the midline of person's abdomen just above the navel, but well below the ribcage. Place your other palm on top of the other hand and administrate a quick inward and upward thrust. These thrusts must be rapid and distinct, with the purpose of dislodging the obstruction. Repeat these thrusts up to 5 times before you open person's mouth to check for dislodgment of an object and then lifting the chin to check for breathing. Once the obstruction is relieved if no pulse is present, start rescue breathing and chest compressions. If you are alone, go for help if the obstruction has not been relieved after one minute.