Choking may seem like a quick happenstance, an emergency that’s over as abruptly as it started, but its effects can be surprisingly long-lasting. After a serious choking emergency where successful first aid has been delivered, most victims probably would prefer to relax or even finish their meal than head off to the doctor’s office. But that’s exactly what they should do, particularly after someone has performed the Heimlich maneuver on them.
Let’s take a look at some of the lasting effects that can occur after a person chokes:
Food that has been chewed and swallowed is in the early stages of breaking down, separating into smaller bits that can be digested. Food is by far the most common cause of choking, and when first aid is successfully delivered, it’s not uncommon for some of that food to remain in the person’s airway. You may feel like you’ve dislodged the bite of steak or other food completely, but small particles might still remain in your airway.
These tiny bits can then migrate into the lungs in a process called aspiration. You may not feel this occur, and it can lead to serious respiratory conditions such as pneumonia, an infection that can be life-threatening to some people. Doctors can perform a variety of diagnostic tests, from listening with a stethoscope to imaging procedures, that can ensure your airway and lungs are clear.
When you choke on a bite of food or another object, trapping it your airway, that object can cause damage to the delicate lining of your airway itself. Once you’ve dislodged the object, you will feel your breathing hugely improved, but your airway may begin to swell over time from the damage left behind. Doctors can monitor your breathing, provide medications to help reduce inflammation and administer oxygen if necessary as you recover.
One of the more serious complications that can follow a choking incident is damage to the ribs or internal organs as a result of the Heimlich maneuver. Also known as abdominal thrusts, this first-aid treatment has been the standard protocol for choking victims for decades. Although it’s often effective, it can leave victims with bruising, cracked ribs or even internal bleeding and organ damage. Signs of these injuries may not be clear immediately, and they can be serious. Doctors can perform scans to determine whether any internal damage has occurred.
This risk of these injuries is one of the reasons behind the invention of our innovative anti-choking device, The Dechoker. This easy-to-use device has saved dozens of lives and comes with no risk of injury. Click here to learn how it works.
For these reasons, we believe it is safest to get a checkup as soon as possible after a serious choking emergency. In some cases, depending on the victim’s health and the severity of the choking incident, an immediate visit to the E.R. may even be a good idea. Otherwise, we recommend a checkup with your primary care provider.
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