A foreign body in the throat can
cause choking and is a medical emergency that needs
immediate attention. The foreign body can get stuck in many different places
within the airway. As with other foreign body problems, children tend to put things
into their mouths when they are bored or curious. The child may then inhale deeply
the object may become lodged in the "airway" tube (trachea) instead of the "eating"
(esophagus). Food may block the throat in children who don't have a full set of teeth
chew completely, or those children who simply don't chew their food well. Children
don't have complete coordination of the mouth and tongue, which may also lead to
problems. Children under the age of 4 years are in the greatest danger of choking
small objects, including:
Children need to be watched very
closely to prevent a choking emergency.
Foreign body ingestion needs
immediate medical attention. The following are the
most common symptoms that may mean a child is choking:
Choking or gagging when the
object is first inhaled
Coughing at first
Wheezing (a whistling sound,
usually made when the child breathes out)
Although the initial symptoms
listed above may resolve, the foreign body may still be blocking the airway. The
following symptoms may mean that the foreign body is still blocking an airway:
Stridor (a high-pitched sound
usually heard when the child breathes)
Cough that gets worse
Child can't speak
Pain in the throat area or
Blueness around the lips
The child becoming
Treatment of the problem varies
with the degree of airway blockage. If the object is completely blocking the airway,
child will be unable to breathe or talk and their lips will become blue. This is a
medical emergency and you should seek emergency medical care. Do basic life support
treatment for choking if you have been trained. Sometimes, surgery is needed to remove
the object. Children who are still talking and breathing but show other symptoms also
need to be evaluated by a healthcare professional right away.
To prevent choking:
Cut foods into small
Never let small children run,
play, or lie down while eating.
Keep coins and small items
out of reach of your children.
- Make sure older children don't give younger children things that
they can choke on.
Read warning labels on
Learn first aid for