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How the Heimlich maneuver is practiced and what it is used for

Heimlich maneuver

The anti-suffocation maneuver, also known as the Heimlich maneuver, can be very important in saving a life: this is how it is performed.

The Heimlich maneuver is a first aid technique needed to remove an upper airway obstruction. Knowing how to practice it, even if you don't have a medical background, can make the difference between life and death. In fact, it can happen to anyone and at any time to risk suffocating , with a bite of food or with a small object inadvertently ingested. Here are some tips on how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, on both adults and children.

What is the Heimlich maneuver

This type of procedure, first described in 1974 by Dr. Henry Heimlich , is characterized by a series of abdominal compressions designed to help expel what causes suffocation by obstructing the airways. It is important to know how to practice it, it only takes a few minutes to die of suffocation and the maneuver can save a person's life.

First, learn to spot the signs of choking . It is necessary to intervene with this procedure when the subject brings his hands to his throat (instinct of anyone who cannot breathe), cannot speak and emits high-pitched sounds trying to inhale , takes on a red color that gradually tends to bluish, or even loses consciousness.

How the Heimlich maneuver is done

Heimlich maneuver
Heimlich maneuver

To practice this first aid technique, you have to stand behind the person who is choking, hugging them until you join your hands on their abdomen . At this point, a hand is closed into a fist, placing it between the sternum and the navel. With the other, you clench your fist and apply strong compressions on the abdomen, pushing upwards.

This stresses the diaphragm , which in turn compresses the lungs, creating a pneumatic thrust that resembles a strong cough. The maneuver must be repeated until the foreign object is expelled from the airways , and at the same time it is good to call for help.

This maneuver can also be practiced on oneself , when no one else can help the person who is suffocating. Once the object that is blocking the airways has been expelled, it is best to carry out a follow-up visit to verify that no trauma or complications have occurred.

The Heimlich maneuver in children

This maneuver can also be applied to children over one year of age, in the same way as already seen. In infants, on the other hand, the pediatric unblocking maneuver is performed. Sit down and place the baby prone on the forearm, with the head slightly lower than the trunk. Then 5 vigorous blows are given between the shoulder blades with the open hand, with lateral escape route.

Immediately after, the baby turns around, holding his head with one hand and squeezing his chest 5 times, in the center of the nipples, with two fingers of the other hand. This series of compressions must be carried out until the expulsion of the foreign body, in the meantime alerting the rescuers. If the infant loses consciousness, mouth-to-mouth respiration should be practiced, alternating it with heart massage, while waiting for help to arrive.

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