Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.


Choking Overview

What is choking?
A person who is choking is unable to breathe because an object or food is blocking the throat or windpipe. Additional symptoms include difficulty breathing, a weak cough, and the inability to speak. Loss of consciousness occurs if the object or food is not cleared from the airway. Toddlers have a high risk of choking because they commonly place small objects in the mouth.

What are the symptoms of choking?
Common symptoms of choking include coughing, breathing difficulty, wheezing, hoarse voice, and foreign body sensation in the throat.

How does the doctor treat choking?
In most cases, choking symptoms resolve without intervention. A retained foreign body in the airway will need to be removed by the doctor. Aspiration pneumonia will require treatment with antibiotics.

Last Updated: Feb 7, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Choking References
  1. Dewolfe CC. Apparent life-threatening event: a review. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2005 Aug;52(4):1127-46, ix. [16009260]
  2. Sakakeeny-Zaal K. Emergency: pediatric orthopnea and total airway obstruction. Am J Nurs. 2007 Apr;107(4):40-3. [17413731]
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