Choking Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Dany Paul Baby, MD on April 19, 2022
2 min read
  • The person is choking.
  • The person is having trouble breathing or has noisy breathing.
  • The person is unconscious.

For infants 12 months of age and younger, see Choking in Children.

While Waiting for 911

If the Person Is Conscious but Not Able to Breathe or Talk:

Give up to 5 blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.

If the person is not pregnant or too obese, do abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver):

  • Stand behind the person and wrap your arms around the waist.
  • Place your clenched fist just above the person’s navel. Grab your fist with your other hand.
  • Quickly pull inward and upward as if trying to lift the person up.
  • Perform a total of 5 abdominal thrusts.
  • If the blockage is still not dislodged, continue cycles of 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts until the object is coughed up or the person starts to breathe or cough.
  • Take the object out of their mouth only if you can see it. Never do a finger sweep unless you can see the object in the person's mouth.

If the person is obese or pregnant, do high abdominal thrusts:

  • Stand behind the person, wrap your arms them, and position your hands at the base of the breast bone.
  • Quickly pull inward and upward.
  • Repeat until the object is dislodged.

If the obstruction comes out, but the person is not breathing or if the person becomes unconscious:

When emergency medical personnel arrive, they will take over and may do CPRor take the person to the hospital, if needed.