A person who is choking cannot talk, cough, or breathe, and may turn gray or blue. The Heimlich maneuver can help get the food or object out. WARNING: Do not try the Heimlich maneuver unless you are sure the person is choking.
If the person can cough or make sounds, let the person cough to try to get the object out. If you are worried about the person's breathing, call 911.
If the person can't breathe, cough, or make sounds, then:
- Stand or kneel behind the person and wrap your arms around their waist. If the person is standing, place one of your legs between their legs so you can support the person if they faint.
- Make a fist with one hand. Place the thumb side of your fist against the person's belly, just above the belly button but well below the breastbone.
- Grasp your fist with the other hand. Give a quick upward thrust into the belly. This may cause the object to pop out. You may need to use more force for a large person and less for a child or small adult.
- Repeat thrusts until the object pops out or the person faints.
Current as of: November 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine