Know all the details about this situation that, believe it or not, usually happens very often.
People can experience or witness drowning from their own saliva. This event is not complicated to solve, as indicated by Dr. Freddy Espinoza Mendoza, general secretary of the Peruvian Society of Anesthesia, Analgesia and Resuscitation (Spaar).
“Choking on saliva is a problem that will eventually be resolved, since, since it is liquid, if one chokes and passes through the air, it is easy to eliminate it. It is a matter of being calm, patient and reassuring the person who has choked and in a couple of seconds everything must be resolved, ”he said in dialogue with La República.
“There is a natural reflex that all people have, which is to cough. Generally, when there is some foreign body, including saliva, enters the airway (the entrance of the trachea), we have a tendency to perform this action. It is the first instinctive reflex we have and the one that helps. There is not much danger in this, because it is a minimal secretion. But if it were a strange or solid element, there is a risk there,” said Dr. Ysabel Acuña González, a member of the Spaar board of directors.
“Don’t confuse (choking) with ‘I got stuck’, because nothing happens. That usually happens in the esophagus and with a little water or saliva it makes it go to the stomach. But by air, air no longer enters or leaves. The patient cannot even speak and cannot even ask for help. He grabs his neck because he does not breathe or speak, ”explained Espinoza Mendoza.
It should be noted that the term “airway” refers to the path of air from the environment to the lungs. Includes nose, mouth, pharynx, larynx, and trachea.
Recommendations in a drowning situation: the Heimlich maneuver
The general secretary of the Spaar, Freddy Espinoza Mendoza, gave some scope to avoid going through this type of situation, which could compromise the life of any citizen.
“Chew food well and then swallow it. Sometimes, medium-sized food boluses or a piece of bone, which because you don’t see it, you pass it on and it stays in the airway. If it goes into the esophagus and stays there, you have the sensation of being stuck. But you warn and ask for water. There is no problem there. It all comes when someone can’t or grabs their neck, and it’s because the object has entered the airway,” she explained.
On the other hand, Dr. Espinoza expressed the way in which a person who is suffering from drowning can be helped: the Heimlich maneuver.
Heimlich maneuver. The person helping should use both hands to apply strong pressure to the pit of the stomach of the drowning person. Photo: file.
“If a person is watching another drown, they must detect that they really need immediate help. This is detected with something classic, which is holding her neck with her hands, a sign that she is drowning. What has to be done? Keep calm, because the first thing you do is pat yourself on the back. This can cause the affected person to aspirate and the object to enter the airway further. You make a fist with either hand, with the other you encircle your entire hand and generate upward pressure on the stomach. As hard as possible”, Ysabel Acuña specified, referring to the Heimlich maneuver.
For his part, the secretary of the Spaar stressed that this tool is easy to carry out, and even stressed that this movement is taught to schoolchildren from other countries. “You stand behind the patient, close your right hand (which is the dominant one), wrap it with your left hand, apply it to the pit of the stomach and compress rhythmically. That is, from the inside up.
“It must be done with force. This will cause the diaphragm to rise, compress the lung, and the lung exert air force so that the object is expelled through the trachea and out through the mouth. It is quite effective”, added the doctor.
Special cases or people where drowning has to be avoided
Finally, the secretary of the Spaar asked that great care be taken with two types of people, who must avoid any case of drowning when they are fed: older adults and very young children.
“Some elderly, dependent or prone to choking have trouble swallowing. Therefore, they are given porridge. And the same with the little ones, because they don’t know the risks. These special cases are the most susceptible,” she said.
“In the elderly and children, you have to be very careful. If the amount of oxygen does not arrive quickly, they will lose consciousness and the situation is complicated in most cases,” said Acuña González. Likewise, he recommended that the population attend first aid workshops where they are taught how to execute the Heimlich maneuver: “There will not always be medical personnel nearby. It is quite easy to learn, and you have to practice it.”
The Heimlich Maneuver is a procedure to treat cases of choking. Photo: diffusion
Why is it called the Heimlich maneuver?
It is due to its creator Henry Heimlich, a doctor who, thanks to this technique, saved many lives. According to the BBC, this maneuver was invented in 1974. “It is believed that since it began to be used, in 1974, more than 100,000 lives have been saved in the US alone,” this medium indicated in an article in 2016 -the year in that Heimlich passed away.
Updated by Emely Matos
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