How to handle foreign bodies that have been inserted into the respiratory tract

This is a disaster that can occur to anyone, however meticulous one may be. No wonder, children, especially mobile babies and toddlers who tend to explore their surroundings orally, often inhale foreign bodies and land in trouble.

Choking is actually the physiological response to any sudden obstruction in the airways. Obstruction can either be partial or complete. ‘Foreign body airway obstruction’ is indeed a terrifying condition that often leads to the rapid loss of consciousness and even death.

It is important that proper first aid is provided and the child is rushed to the hospital. It is advisable to prevent children from playing with risky objects such as coins, balloon pieces, marbles, hotdogs, improperly chewed meat, carrots and grapes.

However, signs similar to ‘foreign body airway obstruction’ are also found in case of respiratory tract disorders such as laryngitis or epiglottitis.  The inhalation of foreign body should be suspected if the onset has occurred all of a sudden while the child has been playing with some small risky object.

A spontaneous cough is the most effective and safe mode of rescue. Try to make the child cough by himself. The situation becomes all the more difficult to be handled, if the child is a toddler who has not yet developed speaking skills.

If the cough made to bring out the swallowed object is inadequate, the child is likely to fall quiet and become unconscious gradually. In such a case, it is advisable to seek immediate medical aid. If the child remains fully conscious, but is unable to cough properly, try giving strong blows at the back. This is same first aid that should be given even to older children as well.

In some cases, providing abdominal thrusts helps in bringing out the swallowed object that has got stuck somewhere deep down the respiratory tract. In case of infants, it is better to try giving chest thrusts to bring out the foreign object out.


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