February 23, 2010

Heimlich Maneuver Steps for Airway Obstruction Treatment

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

It means that the passage or the airway that carries the air to the lungs is clogged, blocked or narrowed due to something. This obstruction could be complete or partial. The blockage can happen due to trauma, anatomical abnormalities, infections, allergic reactions, and foreign bodies.

Airway obstruction may be followed by respiratory distress, which can be triggered by coughing. During the initial stages of airway obstruction, there is certain agitation. You can predict respiratory distress by heavy and labored breathing, until the person can no longer breathe. If the airway obstruction is not relieved in time, the person can become unconscious.


When the airway is obstructed due to foreign bodies then the following maneuvers can be done for relief.

  • For adults the Heimlich maneuver works well.
  • For kids who are more than a year old, you can work on a series of five abdominal thrusts, which is the version of the Heimlich maneuver for kids.
  • If a baby is less than a year old, then they are given five abdominal thrusts by placing two fingers on the upper part of the abdomen, and five back blows, using the flat part of the hand.

How to do the Heimlich Maneuver?

This maneuver is used to remove foreign objects and food particles in an emergency condition from the airway to treat airway obstruction and prevent suffocation. You should learn the maneuver from someone who has hands-on experience with the maneuver. The Heimlich maneuver involves holding the person who is choking from behind. Then the fist with the thumb side in, is placed below the choking person’s sternum or the breastbone. The other hand is wrapped firmly over the fist, and then the fist is pulled firmly and suddenly into the top portion of the stomach.

Remember that the fist should be placed below the chest bone as well as the belly button. You have to repeat the procedure till the obstruction is cleared from the airway and the person choking and losing consciousness, recovers.

Also, important to note is that, if a person is choking, it is important to act quickly to remove the obstruction from the airway, before it can cause further harm and lead to a state of unconsciousness.>/p>

Tip: It isn’t a wise idea to slap on the back of the victim. This is because if you are trying to remove the obstruction from the airway while the person is upright it can lead to a deeper obstruction, as the gravity of the earth will pull the obstructing material down.