Basic First Aid: Mild Choking

Time and time again we find ourselves in a situation when we feel that we should do something to help others, but we do not know how to best provide this help. A choking adult is one such example.

It happens so often, but yet, how many of us know what to do when a friend, a family member or even a fellow pedestrian suffers a choking episode?

universal gesture that indicates someone is choking is the placement of both hands over the throat, as shown in the figure above. However, other symptoms may include turning blue in colour, difficult and noisy breathing and, if prolonged enough, loss of consciousness.

The first thing to do when faced with such a situation is to assess the severity of choking. When choking is mild, the person would usually still be able to breathe or cough, and in some cases speak and cry. In this case, do not perform first aid but encourage them to cough to clear the obstruction.

Keep monitoring the person and see if coughing has been effective enough to clear the obstruction. If the choking deteriorates or their airway becomes fully blocked, you may need to move on to treating severe obstruction with back blows or abdominal thrusts (see next article).

This information refers to choking adults and children who are over one year old. In future articles, we’ll be looking at dealing with choking babies.

It is of extreme importance to reiterate that these articles are by no means a substitute for formal first aid training and I encourage readers who haven’t received training to enrol in a course today!


Basic First Aid: Severe Choking