According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, at least one child dies from choking on food every five days in the United States, and more than 10,000 children are taken to a hospital emergency room each year for food-choking injuries. Grace Arteaga, M.D., a pediatrician at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center, says, “Should a child choke or swallow something dangerous, parents and caregivers may want to offer liquids and/or solids, but this is not recommended. Also, parents should not force the child to vomit. Have the child see the doctor as soon as possible or take the child to the emergency room."
If a child is coughing forcefully after swallowing an object, parents and caregivers should encourage him or her to continue coughing and not interfere. But, if the swallowed object blocks the airway, and the child’s condition worsens (the cough becomes silent or breathing becomes more difficult), Mayo Clinic experts recommend the "five-and-five" approach to first aid:
- Give 5 back blows. First, deliver five back blows between the victim's shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
- Give 5 abdominal thrusts. Perform five abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver). For infants, use chest compressions because abdominal thrusts may cause injury.
Alternatebetween 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts until the blockage is dislodged, while someone calls for emergency assistance.