Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Inhaled Object Types

Foreign bodies in the airway may be small or large.

Large Foreign Objects
Larger objects are likely to get caught in the throat or larynx. A foreign body caught in this area will cause severe choking because of total blockage of the airway. An object lodged near the vocal cords prevents a person from speaking. A person who appears to be choking and cannot speak may require the Heimlich maneuver.

Small Foreign Objects
Smaller objects may partially block the upper airways, resulting in coughing, wheezing, or the inability to swallow. They usually pass through the trachea and into the lower airway. Sometimes small foreign bodies are expelled from the airway by coughing, but they tend to remain in the lung until they are removed.

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