Choking is an extremely frightening breathing emergency. An individual who is choking has his or her airway blocked by a piece of food or another foreign object. Choking while you are alone is even more frightening, due to the lack of another person to help you. You can, however, survive choking even if you are alone. Read on to discover how to survive choking alone.
If you are alone and are choking it is important not to panic. Panicking, while understandable in such a scary situation, impairs judgment and can make it harder for you to help yourself in an emergency situation. If you are choking, but are still able to breathe or talk, your airway is not completely blocked.
However, breathing may still be difficult, even if your airway is only partially blocked. If you are able to cough forcefully, continue to do so in an effort to expel the object. Remember do not panic. If you are able to cough or speak you are still getting enough air to breathe. If coughing fails to expel the object and you can speak, call for an ambulance immediately.
If you cannot speak, but can still breathe, go outside and try to get the attention and help of a neighbor or passerby by clutching your throat with both hands. This position is known universally as a distress signal for choking.
If you cannot speak, cough forcefully, or breathe your airway is completely blocked. You may, in this situation, still be able to make sounds or cough weakly. This is a life-threatening emergency. You will need to give yourself the Heimlich maneuver.
The Heimlich maneuver is a technique used to stop choking by delivering a series of abdominal thrusts. These upward thrusts put pressure on the lungs and the airway, forcing the air in the lungs to push the object out.
To give yourself the Heimlich maneuver make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against your abdomen, just above your navel and below your ribcage. Take hold of your fist with your other hand and deliver a quick inward and upward thrust into your abdomen. Repeat these thrusts until the object is dislodged.
Another option is to quickly locate a stable, hard object, such as the back of a chair, countertop, railing, or sink. Lean over and thrust your abdomen forcefully enough into the hard surface to expel the object. You need to focus the pressure on your upper abdomen, below your ribcage, and just above your navel. Be very careful not to lean over anything with a sharp edge that may injure you. Repeat the abdominal thrust as often as is necessary.
It is possible to injure yourself while performing abdominal thrusts. Injuries such as broken ribs and bruising can be sustained. These injuries are minor when compared with the possibility of death from choking. Even if you believe you are not injured you should always see a doctor immediately after giving yourself the Heimlich maneuver.
To prevent choking cut your food into small pieces and chew thoroughly. Avoid trying to swallow large pieces of food. Avoid eating when you are talking, walking, running, laughing, exercising, or are otherwise distracted.
Eating while doing these things increases the chance you will inhale a piece of food. Avoid consuming too many alcoholic beverages while you are eating. Alcoholic beverages can dull the nerves that aid in swallowing.