The Heimlich maneuver is a first aid technique that can be practiced when the child has inadvertently swallowed an object or inhaled a mouthful of food and is unable to breathe well. Here’s what to do right away.
Does the baby suddenly find it hard to breathe or even stop breathing? If the little one has inhaled a small object or a candy or something else has gone wrong, there may beairway obstruction. How to behave then?
In case it is an obstruction complete (or total), it is advisable to carry out the unblocking maneuver. If the child is more than one year old, it is possible to practice the Heimlich maneuver. Here’s what exactly it is. The information is also taken from the book How to feed my child (Editions LSWR 2017) by the pediatrician Alberto Ferrando, president of the Ligurian pediatricians association and first aid instructor BLSD.
Heimlich maneuver, what it is
The Heimlich maneuver is a first aid technique that serves to remove aairway obstruction. The name of this technique comes from the American doctor Henry Heimlich, who first, in 1974, described the maneuver in detail.
The procedure can also be performed without having specific skills in medicine, but, in this case, it is always necessary call the emergency room, thanks to which the person who will perform the maneuver will be able to have references. However, it is possible to learn it by following ad hoc courses.
It is very important to know that the Heimlich maneuver should not be performed on children under one year of age.
Heimlich maneuver, what is it for
If you notice that the child (or the adult) cannot breathe, cough, cry or speak (therefore, no air passes) and if you see that he puts his hands around his neck changing color, in this case, if the small is still conscious, one needs to be implemented anti-suffocation maneuver, which can be that of Heimlich.
There Heimlich maneuver it serves to make the object (or anything else) that has blocked the airway expelled.
Heimlich maneuver, how it is practiced
To carry out the Heimlich maneuver it is necessary to place a hand clenched into a fist between the breastbone and navel and grasp one’s fist with the other hand; then you have to carry out 5 firm compressions under the breastbone by pushing the baby’s abdomen upwards (ie towards yourself and upwards, with a movement called “spoon”).
In practice, a series of deep and rapid pressures are exerted on the abdominal area, below the breastbone and above the navel, of the child with the obstruction, then bringing the thrust upwards. This action produces compression of the lungs, pushing the obstructing object into the trachea and thus pulling it out.
Therefore, it is necessary to continue with the maneuvers, until the child expels the foreign body and resumes breathing. If the child loses consciousness, the sequence of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. If you don’t know it well (having taken a special course), the 112 operator will guide you through the sequence.
What NOT to do
- Do not put your fingers or other objects in the throat, to grab the foreign body or make the child vomit. You risk pushing the choking object even lower;
- Do not grab the baby by the feet to put him upside down;
- Do not do the anti-suffocation maneuver if the obstruction is partial.
If the child is under one year of age
If the child is less than one year old, the Hemlich maneuver cannot be performed. However, if he has a total obstruction, place him face down on your forearm, supporting his back and head. Afterwards:
- practice 5 interscapular pats with open palm;
- if the pats do not resolve the obstruction, turn the child on his back and perform 5 deep compressions (but not more than 4 cm) on the sternum, with the tips of two fingers;
Continue with the maneuvers until the infant expels the foreign body and resumes breathing or until he loses consciousness. In this case, you have to start the cardiopulmonary resuscitation sequence. If you don’t know it well (having taken a special course), the 112 operator will guide you through the sequence.
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