Abdominal Thrusts For A Choking Victim


Initiating abdominal thrusts may help a person who is choking on food or another object if it gets stuck in the airway in the throat – stopping air from getting to the lungs.

Some choking is mild and some is severe. Here’s how to tell which is which, and when and how to perform abdominal thrusts…


The choking is mild if…

…the person can make sounds or can cough loudly. Stand by and let the person cough.

The choking is severe if…

…the person cannot breathe, or has a cough that has no sound, or cannot talk, or make a sound, or makes the choking sign (grasping at the throat).

If it’s severe, act fast to get the object out so the person can breathe.


How To Do Abdominal Thrusts

Get behind him.

Wrap your arms around him so that your hands are in front.

Make a fist with one hand.

Put the thumb side of your fist slightly above his belly button and well below the breastbone.

Grasp the fist with your other hand and give quick upward thrusts into his abdomen, as though you are trying to lift the person.

Give thrusts until the object is forced out and he can breathe, cough, or talk.


image source: the American Heart Association


  1. good info, and might save a life.

    wondering if you/your readers know procedure for a baby, young child?

    when I had a baby, the family doctor explained it, and it ended up being needed knowledge. Worked easily/well.

    if young one is choking, take one hand, hold by ankle, extend your other arm, and roll the child over your arm, going from their pelvis up towards their chest.

    1. correction,
      that should read

      hold by ankles ** plural
      as in, grab the kid by the ankles, with one hand, up end them, etc.

  2. Good tip for kids, thanks. Remember abdo thrusts on children could do some serious internal damage. And don’t do what some people suggest, which is give a chocking person something to drink.

    1. Briggsy, yes, I have heard that about abdominal thrusts on kids as well, especially younger ones. Maybe that is why the doctor showed me this technique, had me practice. it seems very gentle on the kid, and did work. I, unfortunately, had to use it more than once, and always seemed to work immediately, cause no distress/trouble.

  3. Many years ago I was on a flight from Seattle to Anchorage when a man across the aisle from me started choking on a piece of steak. I started the maneuver as described and it wasn’t until the man passed out that his throat relaxed enough to free the obstruction. A few years later I questioned a doctor about this and he assured me that many times this is the case since the victim tries to swallow the item that is the obstruction and until they pass out the throat muscles won’t relax. We got portable oxygen bottle and left him breathe some straight O2.

  4. i was about to say the same thing Anon!

    highly recomend everyone take some
    first aid!

    …also…learn c.p.r.!

    …st.johns ambulance sells all sorts of medical supplies at reasonable price.

    …i always carry a small mask for cpr that goes on my key chain.
    …in my truck i have a level 1 first aid kit…it has a mask that is supposed to protect the vicctim
    from throwing up at you and against blood…

    …i have on my wish list a A.E.D. (automated external defibrulator)…
    woulld be a great life saver for ones preps…

    …remember babies and children especially are so precious and fragile that if you are not trained and make one wrong move…

    so get summm training folks!

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