Children often put small objects into their mouths may cause choking. This is an obstruction in the windpipe that makes it difficult or impossible to breathe as air cannot pass into the lungs. A child who is choking will often do so quietly, initially turning red as he or she struggles to take air in, grasping at the neck and mouth and eventually losing color, with a blue tinge to the lips. Without treatment, a child will become unconscious and may die.
CHOKING IN CHILDREN
Choking is a major cause of death in young children and should be considered whenever a child has breathing difficulties. Look for small beads or coin that the child may have been playing with, or ask playmates to identify clues that choking may be the cause of unconsciousness in the child.
Check child’s mouth for obstruction but do not feel blindly in the mouth as you may push the object further into the windpipe. Look to see if there is anything that can be easily removed. If the child is breathing, encourage her to continue coughing because this may dislodge the obstruction. If the child shows signs of becoming weak or stops breathing or coughing, perform the Heimlich Maneuver.
THE HEIMLICH MANEUVER
This maneuver works by producing an artificial cough that dislodges the object blocking the windpipe. Stand or kneel behind the child. Put your arms around her waist. Make a fist with one hand and place it, between the belly button and the bottom of the breastbone. Grasp the fist with your other hand. Keep your arms away from the child’s ribcage and give 4 sharp inward thrusts. The aim is to relieve the obstruction with each thrust. It may be necessary to repeat this maneuver before the object is coughed up.
If the obstruction is still not relieved, recheck the mouth for any object that can be reached with a finger and remove it if possible. Perform the maneuver 3 times before calling for emergency help.