Foreign object inhaled

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First aid: Foreign object inhaled

If you or your child inhales a foreign object, see your doctor. If the inhaled object causes choking, the American Red Cross recommends the "five-and-five" approach to delivering first aid:

  • First, deliver five back blows between the victim's shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
  • Next, perform five abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver).
  • Alternate between five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until the blockage is dislodged.

If you're the only rescuer, perform back blows and abdominal thrusts before calling 911 or your local emergency number for help. If another person is available, have that person call for help while you perform first aid.

To perform the Heimlich maneuver on someone else:

  • Stand behind the person. Wrap your arms around the waist. Tip the person forward slightly.
  • Make a fist with one hand. Position it slightly above the person's navel.
  • Grasp the fist with the other hand. Press hard into the abdomen with a quick, upward thrust — as if trying to lift the person up.
  • Perform a total of five abdominal thrusts, if needed. If the blockage still isn't dislodged, repeat the five-and-five cycle.

To perform the Heimlich maneuver on yourself:

  • Place a fist slightly above your navel.
  • Grasp your fist with the other hand and bend over a hard surface — a countertop or chair will do.
  • Shove your fist inward and upward.
Last Updated: 2009-11-14
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