Breathing is vital to life. Our airway is the passage way for oxygen to enter the lungs and carbon dioxide to be expelled from the lungs. The airway consists of four parts, pharynx, larynx, trachea and lungs. The mouth and nose comprise the pharynx and are the openings in the body through which air flow in and out. The nose functions to filter, warm and humidify the air we breath. The larynx begins at the back of the mouth and is comprised of that which we call the throat. Beyond the larynx is the main conduit for air between the throat and lungs called the trachea. The lungs consist of two hemispheres that function to draw air in, force air out and exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.
The larynx is possibly one of the most important parts of our airway. It is at this location that the trachea and esophagus split allowing air to go one way and food the other. The opening of the trachea is lined by vocal cords which are used to create sound associated with speech. To prevent food and water from entering the airway, causing an obstruction, there is a small fold of tissue called the epiglottis that folds over the trachea during swallowing. At times, food can be accidentally forced into the trachea causing an obstruction. This event is commonly called choking. Depending on the size of the airway foreign body and its final location will depend on whether a person's airway will be partially or completely blocked. If left untreated, choking is fatal.
In the event of a person choking it is vital that the airway be reopened allowing adequate airflow to the lungs. If you notice a person choking the Heimlich maneuver can be performed in attempt to dislodge the airway foreign body. This is performed by standing behind the victim wrapping your arms around their stomach. Make a two-handed fist at the location of the victim's belly button and provide several forceful, inward and upward thrusts. This will typically dislodge the foreign body. It is also crucial to seek emergency medical care when choking is suspected.
This page is meant for public education in basic medical safety issues. The Cedarville Township Fire Department is not responsible for any further complications resulting from improper use of information contained on this page.
Cedarville Township Volunteer Fire Department
19 South St.
Cedarville, OH, 45314
Phone: 937-766-5851 - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org