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From Mediwikis

Every year thousands of people die from incidents such as choking, if everyone knew and was able to perform first aid many of these deaths could be avoided. Choking is the obstruction or constriction of the airway leading to difficulty breathing.

Incidence of death is around 0.66 per 100,000.

The incidence of choking is much higher, and likely doesn't include those successfully prevented with first aid.

The most common cause is foreign body airway obstruction, this can be prevented by not exercising or performing jerky movements whilst eating, chewing food properly, not placing anything foreign in the oral cavity that is not necessary and avoiding drunkenness.


  • Struggling to breath or talk and coughing that occurs whilst eating, and onset was very sudden.
  • Adult victim - may clutch his or her neck, or points to throat.
  • Child victim - there may be clues, eg seen eating or playing with small items just before onset of symptoms.







Danger Response Airways Breathing Circulation

Translates to:

  • Look for danger
  • Ask if they are choking
  • Be calm
  • Encourage coughing, if they are vocal
  • If the person is unable to speak, cry, cough or breathe or the cough is ineffective and patient still conscious, then give:
  • 5 back blows
  • 5 abdominal thrusts
  • Continue until help arrives


  1. If the person becomes unconscious, start CPR
  2. If the person still has a persistent cough, difficulty swallowing, or feels as though something is still stuck in their throat, they need to go to A+E.
  3. Abdominal thrusts and chest compressions can potentially cause serious internal injuries and all victims successfully treated with these measures should be examined afterwards for injury

Child Choking

5 back blows – this is due to likelihood of airway obstruction origin (up to 12yo)

Chest thrusts < 1yo

Abdominal thrusts > 1yo