This is most often caused by a piece of food or other object lodged in the throat. The most effective action you can take is called the Heimlich Maneuver. It is simple to perform:
- For a standing or sitting patient, make a fist, with the thumb and index finger forming a knob. Press this knob directly against the patient's stomach, above the navel, but below the sternum, or breastbone.
With your free hand, reach around and grab your fist. Press the fist up and into the stomach with a sharp thrusting motion. Be sure to make this thrust by bending both elbows, not by "hugging" the patient. A strong hug can crack ribs.
If the patient is lying face down, roll him onto his back. Make sure his head is raised in order to clear his airway. Place one hand on top of the other with the heel of the lower hand against the patient's stomach again between his navel and sternum. Press into and up against the patient's stomach with a sharp thrusting motion.
- For both the standing and lying Heimlich Maneuvers, the thrust may be repeated several times, if necessary, until the patient can breathe, returns to consciousness and normal color. If the technique does not seem to be working, immediately call 911 for help.
Shortness of Breath
If a person is short of breath, you may try several things to help him:
- Have the person sit up
- Use oxygen if it is available
- If awake, have the person try to cough
- Tell the person to concentrate on relaxing-anxiety makes the short-of-breath feeling worse!
If breathing difficulty continues, call 911.
A person who is short of breath, perspiring, and complains of severe chest pain may be having a heart attack. Call 911 at once! While waiting for help, check the patient's pulse regularly. Keep track of its rate and strength so that you can report it to the emergency medical workers when they arrive.
Read How to Deal With Emergencies at Home