Worldwide, every year over 100,000 people die suffocated due to food or other foreign objects that accidentally reach into the trachea. If breathing is not resumed after two – three minutes after the onset of asphyxia, processes of brain destruction begin and the victim is on the brink of death.
In the U.S. until 1974, when the Heimlich maneuver was introduced, asphyxiation was the sixth leading cause of accidental death. Due to the fact that the suffocated victims can not speak, the problem is sometimes misinterpreted as an heart attack.
Combustible materials, solar radiation, electricity, necrotizing substances can burn our skin, sharp objects can cause swelling or open injuries. Pieces of food or foreign bodies into the trachea can suffocate us. Everywhere around us there are elements which, due to inattention or haste, can affect more or less our physical integrity. Knowing some first aid basic rules can make the difference between life and death in such a situation.
Heimlich maneuver is very easy, requires no special equipment or medical training. The mechanism is very simple: when the respiratory process was stopped, sudden mobilization of the remaining air in the lungs unblocks the obstructed airway.
- Savior will be placed behind the person who is choking and will introduce one of his legs between the legs of the victim, so that he can easily keep the person upright. A punch in the stomach above the navel, below the breastbone, with the thumb towards the body.
- The savior will grab firmly the clenched fist with another hand and push on the stomach suddenly, leaning back and pulling up in the same time with enough force that the victim’s feet rise slightly from the ground (not so hard if the victim is a minor) . Strong compression of the diaphragm will cause the lungs to expell the remaining air and the obstacle is easily mobilized. If the object has not emerged from the first attempt, repeat the procedure until successful or until the victim faints.
What To Do If
Asphyxia led to loss of consciousness.
Place the unconscious victim on the ground and immediately call the ambulance. Until the arrival of the ambulance, start CPR, including chest compressions. No more abdominal presses (Hemlich maneuver). Each time the airways are open, check if the object has not reached the mouth or throat, case in wich you can extract it, otherwise continue until the victim regains consciousness or until medical personnel arrives.
Suffocation occurs when you are alone
The victim can apply the Heimlich maneuver on his own or he can lean on the back of a chair, pressing rhythmically, strong and suddenly the diaphragm until the foreign body is out.
The victim is an infant.
Place the infant faceing down on the forearm, supporting his head with the palm of the same hand, so that it is lower than the chest. Child’s mouth should be free, between the thumb and fingers and the neck not twisted. Apply to your baby’s back between the shoulder blades, four to five strokes with the open palm. If the object has not come out of the airways, the back baby will be placed faceing up, (always maintaining the head), on the open legs of the rescuer. Apply the three and four finger just below the breastbone and hit five times, with short-acting downwards movements, towards the chin. If the foreign the object can be seen in the mouth, it should be removed immediately. You can do two mouth to mouth breaths. If despite these measures the foreign body has not come out, call the ambulance and continue the respiratory resuscitation.