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by redroses143 redroses143 (New) New

when a patient is chocking on something but is coughing/talking. is it best to give them water? help them stand or ask them to raise both of theirs hands? what is the do and don't when pt is choking but is coughing? ty

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 41 years experience.

It is important to follow the American Heart Association guidelines. Generally speaking, if they have an airway and can talk leave them alone and let their body's defense mechanisms take care of coughing it out.

Choking Treatment

Choking Causes, Symptoms, Treatment - When to Seek Medical Care on eMedicineHealth

Self-Care at Home

Choking is an emergency. Call 911 emergency medical services. Do not attempt to drive a choking person to a hospital emergency department.What to do if a person starts to choke:

  • It is best not to do anything if the person is coughing forcefully and not turning a bluish color. Ask, "Are you choking?" If the person is able to answer you by speaking, it is a partial airway obstruction. Stay with the person and encourage him or her to cough until the obstruction is cleared.
  • Do not give the person anything to drink because fluids may take up space needed for the passage of air.

loriangel14, RN

Specializes in Acute Care, Rehab, Palliative.

If the pt is coughing/talking then they are not choking.Do not give them a drink.Encourage coughing.Choking means no air is getting through.If they can cough/talk then air is getting through.

BostonTerrierLover, BSN, RN

Specializes in Adult/Ped Emergency and Trauma. Has 16 years experience.

I agree with Esme12, I had to repeat this critical skill in Lab. The scenario was a toddler, coughing, what do you do? The correct response was: nothing, or stand-by, or monitor for coughing to stop. I tried to fingerswipe to remove Foriegn body; thus I crashed and burned, and had to repeat critical second time (ah nursing school), but that's the trade off, I will never forget it. Yes, I felt like a dumbXXX, but they got a ton of students on the first try with this.

Had I just remembered common sense, what do I do in the mall when a child coughs? Nothing. If they turned cyanotic, and hit the floor with purple lips, I would have been the first to PALs rescue.

But, once again, it was just a plastic dummy anyway.

BostonTerrierLover, BSN, RN

Specializes in Adult/Ped Emergency and Trauma. Has 16 years experience.

I wonder where the science behind the raising the arms come from, my wife did that to me when tea went down wrong, then I got tickled and did nearly choke! Is it taking pressure of the diaphragm? Always wondered, or is it useless?


Specializes in ORTHOPAEDICS-CERTIFIED SINCE 89. Has 30 years experience.

I hadn't heard of arm raising 'til I met my husband. Apparently around here (SC) it is a "well known fact" said tongue in cheek.

BostonTerrierLover, BSN, RN

Specializes in Adult/Ped Emergency and Trauma. Has 16 years experience.

It always haunted me how most choking deaths occur because the person gets embarrased with the gagging/coughing, and leaves the room. They then die without any witnesses to rescue them in time.

It Never fails, 10 minutes later, "Has anyone seen XXXXX?" "They got choked during dinner, and went to the bathroom."