Foreign body in airway

Chest | Pulmonology | Foreign body in airway (Disease)


A patient that has an inhaled foreign body mean that it has an object stuck in the air passageways of the throat or lung. Inhaled foreign bodies in adults include food, pills, or chewing gum. Children under five years old can choke on any object that is small enough to enter the airway.

Causes and Risk factors

Choking occurs when a foreign object – such as a mouthful of food, a marble or false teeth – partly or completely blocks a person’s airway. Choking may be a life-threatening medical emergency because the brain can only survive a few minutes without oxygen. Another name for choking is foreign body airway obstruction.

In one study, peanuts were the most common obstruction. In addition to peanuts, hot dogs, and grapes, latex balloons are also a serious choking hazard in children that can result in death. A latex balloon will conform to the shape of the trachea, blocking the airway and making it difficult to expel with the Heimlich maneuver.

The onset of respiratory distress may be sudden with cough. There is often agitation in the early stage of airway obstruction. The signs of respiratory distress include labored, ineffective breathing until the person is not longer breathing (apneic). Loss of consciousness occurs if the obstruction is not relieved.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment of airway obstruction due to a foreign body includes:

(1) Adults: The Heimlich maneuver.

(2) Children over 1 year of age: A series of 5 abdominal thrusts (a childrens version of the Heimlich maneuver

(3) Infants under 1 year of age: A combination of 5 back blows (with the flat of the hand) and 5 abdominal thrusts (with 2 fingers on the upper abdomen). ...