Choking is a result of an obstruction of the airway. If the child is crying, coughing or talking, this is an indication that some air is getting through. Simply observe the child as he or she is the best one to clear the obstruction. Relief of airway obstruction should only be attempted if it no longer seems as if the child is moving any air. Foreign-body airway obstruction should be suspected in infants and children who develop sudden difficulty breathing, especially when associated with coughing, gagging, wheezing or a high-pitched noisy sound when inhaling. If you have been trained in CPR, you may attempt to dislodge the object from the airway – otherwise call 911 immediately.
In conditions where your child has swallowed an object and is coughing but is unable to talk allow the child to try to cough out the object on his own; also call 911 immediately.
If a child swallows an object, but shows no signs of choking, coughing or pain with swallowing, rest assured that most objects will pass through the intestines and be eliminated in the stool. However, commonly swallowed objects should be kept out of a young child’s reach, including coins, plants balloons, small toys and foods like peanuts, hot dogs and popcorn. Some objects may be toxic or become lodged, such as small batteries, open safety pins and coins quarter-sized or larger.
If the child has persistent coughing, wheezing or pain with swallowing call your physician’s office immediately. It is strongly recommended that all parents learn CPR, ask your pediatrician’s office for a schedule of classes offered in the area.