Choking happens when an object gets stuck in a person’s airway and makes it difficult or impossible to breathe. Choking is potentially life-threatening and classifies as a medical emergency. Several conditions and incidents can cause choking, especially for seniors and young children. Prevention provides the best method of stopping choking incidents.
Incidents Leading to Choking
Choking can result from a wide variety of problems. While medical causes are possible, causes of choking usually involve food or eating. Some causes of choking include the following.
Food that gets stuck in the windpipe can cause a blockage that makes it impossible to breathe. Some choking accidents happen because of blockages caused by large pieces of food.
Small objects can also cause blockages in the windpipe and cause choking. This is usually a concern for small children, but it can happen to seniors as well.
Dehydration (Lack of Saliva)
Experiencing dehydration can reduce the amount of saliva in a person’s mouth. Saliva helps break down food, making it soft enough to swallow. If there is not enough saliva, pieces of food may get stuck on the way down.
Asthma refers to a condition in which the lining of the windpipe becomes inflamed and restricts airflow. Asthma can turn into a fatal medical condition if a victim fails to treat it.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD involves a series of conditions that can make it difficult to exhale. Because of this, victims may struggle to breathe in general. COPD develops over time and has a variety of treatment options based on the symptoms.
Other causes of choking with different risk factors for each age group exist as well. If you think someone is choking, apply emergency medical techniques or seek emergency care right away.
Choking Risk Factors
Choking may present a problem for anyone at any age. It can happen to anyone, but specific groups may live with a higher risk of choking. Seniors, especially those who wear false teeth or have respiratory system conditions, are at risk of unintentional death from choking, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These groups are more likely to ingest something that is too big for their windpipe or experience a medical emergency related to breathing. People with dysphagia (swallowing problems) may choke at some point as well. Because they have difficulty swallowing, food may get stuck in their throats as they swallow.
Choking hazards fall into several categories. Choking often results from something that is too large to swallow safely. Several other things may cause someone to choke. Choking hazards are listed below.
Hard foods, like apples, may cause choking hazards. Elderly residents at a nursing home, for example, have caregivers who cut their food, and they may fail to cut their food into small enough pieces.
Drinking a high volume of liquids at one time can cause choking. Like hard foods, a large amount of water in the windpipe that encounters a blockage, such as an air bubble or a restricted windpipe, can block the windpipe entirely.
Allergens and Asthma Irritants
Allergens and asthma irritants can cause inflammation in the respiratory system, which can restrict airflow. Immediate treatment with medical devices or medication may prevent more serious problems.
Like hard foods, small hard objects may get stuck in the windpipe. Young children or seniors may swallow things that can cause blockages in the respiratory system.
Dysphagia refers to a condition in which people have trouble swallowing. It can cause choking in situations where someone would otherwise eat safely. It often requires medical intervention to treat.
Every choking hazard and choking incident classifies as a medical emergency. Seek medical assistance immediately if someone begins to choke. Avoiding choking hazards is often the best way to prevent choking incidents, especially for seniors and young children.
Discuss Any Choking Incidents
Choking incidents can be traumatizing, especially for seniors. In some cases, choking results from poor supervision and care from nursing home providers. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to discuss the options for possible legal recourse after a choking incident in a nursing home. Our lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means you pay nothing out of pocket and no upfront costs. We only take a fee if we get a settlement in your favor.