Heimlich Heroes Blog


Feb 07, 2018

What Happens To Your Body When You Choke

Choking is a scary and serious experience. If you know and understand how your body works, it can help you recognize, respond to and prevent a choking emergency. Check out this helpful information on choking anatomy:

At the back of your throat the esophagus and trachea share an opening. Food goes down the esophagus and air goes down the trachea or windpipe.

The epiglottis is a small flap of cartilage that covers the opening of the trachea when you eat. When you swallow you body knows what to do and closes the trachea.

Occasionally, the epiglottis doesn’t close fast enough and food can slip down the trachea. Things like laughing, running, and goofing around while eating can lead to choking. Taking small bites and chewing thoroughly before swallowing can help ensure food goes down the correct pipe.

When food gets into the trachea sometimes your body can fix the problem by coughing up the blockages. But, when the object is lodged further down the trachea it blocks airflow to the lungs.

If someone is truly choking, they won’t be able to breathe or talk and their face might turn red. If the brain goes too long without oxygen, damage or even death can occur. Immediate action must be taken.

The Heimlich Maneuver® is the best way to help yourself or someone else who is choking. The quick inward and upward squeeze from the maneuver sends a strong burst of air from the lungs to the trachea to push the blockage out of the trachea and through the mouth.

It is important to learn how to correctly perform the Heimlich so it can be performed effectively and without harm. You can learn the maneuver by registering for Heimlich Heroes’ training program today!

To learn more about choking anatomy check out our flashcards and anatomy quiz!