Emergency Medicine: Choking: The Heimlich Maneuver
The universal sign for choking is hands clutched to the throat. If the person
doesn't give the signal, look for these indications:
-Inability to talk
-Difficulty breathing or noisy breathing
-Inability to cough forcefully
-Skin, lips and nails turning blue or dusky
-Loss of consciousness
The Heimlich maneuver is an emergency technique for preventing suffocation when
a person's airway (windpipe) becomes blocked by a piece of food or other object.
It can be used safely on both adults and children, but most experts do not
recommend it for infants less than 1 year old. You can also perform the maneuver
If choking is occurring, the Red Cross recommends a "five-and-five" approach to
delivering first aid:
First, deliver FIVE back blows between the person's shoulder blades with the
heel of your hand.
Second, perform FIVE abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich Maneuver).
Third, alternate between FIVE back blows and five abdominal thrusts until the
blockage is dislodged.
The Heimlich Maneuver
To perform the Heimlich Maneuver on someone else:
1. Stand behind the person. Wrap your arms around the waist. Tip the person
2. Make a fist with one hand. Position it slightly above the person's navel.
3. Grasp the fist with the other hand. Press hard into the abdomen with a quick,
upward thrust ? as if trying to lift the person up.
4. Perform a total of five abdominal thrusts, if needed. If the blockage still
isn't dislodged, repeat the "five-and-five" cycle.
To perform the Heimlich Maneuver on yourself:
1. Place a fist slightly above your navel.
2. Grasp your fist with the other hand and bend over a hard surface ? a
countertop or chair will do.
3. Shove your fist inward and upward.
4. If you do not have the strength or the object is not coming out, find the
corner of a table or chair and push your body upward and inward.
Andrew Pacholyk, MS. L.Ac
Therapies for healing
mind, body, spirit
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