Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

First Aid: Choking

First Aid

Choking can be a life-threatening emergency. Your child might be choking if he or she suddenly:

  • begins gasping or wheezing
  • can't talk, cry, or make noise
  • begins to turn blue in the face
  • grabs at his or her throat or waves arms
  • appears panicked

What to Do

If your child is choking, call 911 right away or have someone else call. If you are trained to do abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver), do so immediately. If not done correctly, however, this maneuver could hurt your child.

Do not reach into the mouth to grab the object or pat your child on the back. Either could push the object farther down the airway and make the situation worse.

Keep the following in mind:

  • If your child is gagging and coughing but can breathe and talk, the airway is not completely blocked and it's best to do nothing. Your child will likely be fine after the coughing spell.
  • If your child was choking and is now unconscious and no longer breathing, send someone tocall 911. Immediately perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if you've been trained.
  • Take your child for medical care after any serious choking episode, especially if there is a lasting cough or wheezing. If your child has trouble breathing or swallowing, go to the emergency room.

Think Prevention!

Here are four ways to prevent choking:

  1. Children younger than 4 years old should avoid eating foods that are easy to choke on, including nuts, raw carrots, popcorn, and hard or gooey candy. Cut food like hot dogs and grapes into small pieces.
  2. Make sure kids sit down, take small bites, and don't talk or laugh with mouths full when eating.
  3. Pick up anything off the floor that might be dangerous to swallow, like deflated balloons, pen caps, coins, beads, and batteries. Keep toys or gadgets with small parts out of reach.
  4. Learn how to do abdominal thrusts and CPR, which usually are taught as part of any basic first-aid course.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date Reviewed: 08-01-2018

Lea este articulo en Español

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.