Choking is when someone can't breathe because food, a toy, or other object is blocking the airway (throat or windpipe).
This article discusses choking in infants.
Choking may result from a complete or partial blockage of the airway.
Permanent brain damage can occur in as little as 4 minutes when a person does not get enough air. Rapid first aid for choking can save a life.
Choking in infants is usually caused by breathing in a small object that the baby has placed in their mouth, such as a button, coin, balloon, toy part, or watch battery.
The danger signs of choking are:
Do NOT perform these steps if the infant is coughing hard or has a strong cry. Strong coughs and cries can push the object out of the airway.
If your child is not coughing forcefully or does not have a strong cry, follow these steps:
If the object does not come out of the airway after 5 blows:
IF THE INFANT LOSES ALERTNESS
If the child becomes unresponsive, stops breathing, or turns blue:
If an infant is choking:
Always call your doctor after a child has been choking, even if you successfully remove the object from the airway and the infant seems fine.
Manno M. Pediatric respiratory emergencies: Upper airway obstruction and infections. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 166.
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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