Airway obstruction

If someone chokes and cannot breathe normally, it is important to intervene quickly. Airway obstruction can lead to oxygen deprivation, cardiac arrest and life-threatening injuries. It is therefore important that you know how to proceed to best help the person.

What can you do?

If the person is still conscious and can cough, ask them to continue coughing. Coughing might naturally remove the stuck object. If the person is unable to breathe, cough or speak, you must help by alternating five back blows and five abdominal thrusts. The method below works for adults and children over one year old.

Give back blows:

  • Start by standing behind the person and leaning them forward so that their head is tilted downwards.
  • Hold one hand against the upper part of the person's chest for support.

• Then give up to five strong strokes with the lower part of your hand between the person's shoulder blades.

If back blows do not help, apply abdominal pressure:

  • Stand behind the person.
  • Bend the person forwards.
  • Wrap your arms around the waist.
  • Make a fist with one hand and place it between the navel and the chest. Place the other hand on top.
  • Give five strong abdominal thrusts.

Continue alternating back and abdominal thrusts until the object causing the blockage comes up. If the person becomes unconscious, call 112 and start CPR with alternating 30 chest compressions and two breaths.

Educate yourself

There are courses where you can practise helping people with airway obstruction.
For example, through the HLR-rådet, Röda korset och Svenska Livräddningssällskapet.