Visual Encyclopedia

Choking

Choking is the mechanical obstruction of the flow of air from the environment into the lungs. Choking prevents breathing, and can be partial or complete, with partial choking allowing some, although inadequate, flow of air into the lungs. Prolonged or complete choking results in asphyxia which leads to anoxia and is potentially fatal. Oxygen stored in the blood and lungs can keep a person alive for several minutes after breathing stops.

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A video showing what to do if someone's choking. Never immediately perform the Heimlich maneuver, especially if the person's coughing.

Contributed by Sammo Lea

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