Swallowed foreign bodies

If swallowed, sharp, jagged or pointed items have different physical effects to smooth, rounded ones. Sharp objects tend to get stuck somewhere in the throat, thus increasing the risk of perforation, bleed- ing and inflammation of the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract. The casualty usually feels a sudden stinging pain. Giving the casualty something to drink may ease the symptoms, if not the cause. Should this be the case, the victim needs to be taken to a hospital, where a specialist will arrange for an X-ray in order to locate the foreign body.

When a large object, for instance a piece of meat, becomes stuck in the throat there is a danger that the victim might choke because the airway is obstructed. Tell-tale signes are if the person’s skin turns red and then blue. Immediate first aid is then needed. If the object is within reach, try to remove it from the mouth with the fingers. If the victim is a little child or baby, hold him or her upside down by the ankles and give several thumps with the heel of your hand between the child’s shoulderblades. An older child or adult may be helped by positioning yourself behind him or her, clasping the casualty from behind around the middle and holding your own wrist. Then, try to raise the inside pressure of the air in the lungs of the casualty by firmly and rhythmically thrusting your arms inwards and upwards, under the breastbone. If this does not work, emergency transferral to a hospital may be life-saving.

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