A series of under-the-diaphragm
abdominal thrusts are recommended for a person who is choking on a piece of food or a
foreign object. This technique is used only when a person is choking due to something
blocking the airway. Choking is when a person can't speak, cough, or breathe. An
airway obstruction can lead to a loss of consciousness and death. When applying the
abdominal thrusts, be careful not to use too much force so you don't damage the ribs or
internal organs. Only use abdominal thrusts on a conscious person if "back slaps" fail
to relieve the airway obstruction. If the person is unconscious, use chest
Abdominal thrusts lift the
diaphragm. They force enough air from the lungs to create an artificial cough. This
cough helps move air through the windpipe, pushing, and expelling the obstruction out of
the airway and mouth:
Reach around the person's
Position one clenched fist
above the navel (belly button) and below the rib cage.
Grasp your fist with your
other hand. Pull the clenched fist sharply and directly backward and upward under
the rib cage 6 to 10 times quickly.
If the person is obese or in
late pregnancy, give chest thrusts.
Continue uninterrupted until
the obstruction is relieved or advanced life support is available. In either case,
the person should be examined by a healthcare provider as soon as possible.
If you are by yourself and choking, you can perform thrusts on
yourself. Or thrust your upper abdomen against the back of a chair or the edge of a
Abdominal thrusts can be painful
and even injure the person. Only use abdominal thrusts in actual emergencies, when it is
certain that the person is choking. Use this method only in adults.
A different technique is used in
infants and small children. Discuss the proper first-aid choking technique for your
child with his or her healthcare provider.