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Most of the time, the choking is light and, therefore, in these cases it is advised:
- Ask the person to cough 5 times hard;
- Hit 5 times in the middle of the back, keeping the hand open and in a quick movement from bottom to top.
However, if this does not work, or if the choking is more severe, such as what happens when eating soft foods such as meat or bread, you should immediately start the Heimlich maneuver, which consists of:
- Stand behind the victim, who must also be standing, as shown in image 1;
- Put your arms around the person's torso;
- Close the fist of the hand that has more strength and place it, with the thumb knot, over the victim's stomach pit, which is between the ribs, as in image 2;
- Place the other hand over the hand with the clenched fist;
- Pressing your hands against the person's stomach, inwards and upwards, as if you were going to draw a comma, as shown in image 3.
See what to do for babies and children under 2 years old.
The pressure created by this maneuver on the stomach helps move the object up the throat, freeing the airway, but it should not be used on children under 2 years of age or pregnant women. After this procedure, it is normal for the person to start coughing, so it is important to let them cough, as this is the best way to avoid suffocation.
Watch how to proceed in case of choking:
What to do if nothing works
If after the maneuver, the person remains choking and unable to breathe for more than 30 seconds, it is recommended to call medical help by calling 192. During this time, you can maintain the Heimlich maneuver or try to turn the person upside down and try to shake them so that the piece that is choking moves and lets the air through.
If it is safe, and if the person is not clenching their teeth, you can try to put the index finger through the mouth and into the throat, in order to try to pull the object or rest of food that is stuck. However, it is possible that the victim has a tendency to forcefully close the mouth, which can result in wounds and cuts on the hand.
If however, the person faints and stops breathing, stop trying to remove the object from the throat and start cardiac massage until medical help arrives or until the person reacts.
What to do when choking on your own
In cases where you are alone and your cough is not helping, you can follow these steps:
- Stand on all fours, with knees and hands on the floor;
- Remove the support of both arms at the same time, stretching them forward;
- Drop the torso towards the floor quickly to push the air out of the lungs.
Ideally, this maneuver should be done on a mat, but on a smooth and hard surface. However, it can be done directly on the ground, because, although there is a risk of breaking a rib, it is an emergency maneuver that can help save life.
Another option is to perform the maneuver on top of a high counter, supporting your body weight with your arms stretched out on the counter and then letting your torso fall onto the counter with force.