An object can become stuck in the airway at any age but is most
common in children younger than age 3. Although a child may not have any
symptoms when something is stuck in his or her airway, any of the following
symptoms may occur:
Rapid, noisy, or high-pitched
swallowing, or the complete inability to swallow
Refusal to eat solids
Pain in the neck, chest, or
Since a small child may put anything in his or her mouth, it is
important to be aware of what is within reach. The windpipe is about the same
size as the diameter of your child's little finger. It is best to keep objects
less than 1.25 in. (3.2 cm) out
of a child's reach.
Spitting up, also known as reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is messy. But unlike vomiting, it usually isn't painful, and babies often don't notice they're spitting up. Most babies outgrow this by 9 or 10 months of age.
Pieces of food, such as hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, and candy, are
the most common objects that cause airway blockage, with round foods being most
frequent. Small parts of a toy, the eyes sewn on a doll, or buttons from
clothing can become stuck in the air passage. Latex balloons are particularly
hazardous, because even a tiny piece can completely block the airway.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this