email this pageprint this page



It is a situation that can bring death and is created when the organism is not oxygenated satisfactorily. The lack of oxygen can be due to breathing air with oxygen content less than normal or by preventing breathing or when the respiratory system is damaged.

Without satisfactory quantity of oxygen the webs are destroyed very fast. The vital cells of brain are possible to die in just three minutes if they remain without oxygen.

What can cause suffocation:

• Obstruction of airways because of fall of the tongue in the back part of the pharynx, because of the existence of food, vomit or other substances in the airways, or because of web edema of the pharynx due to burn, insect sting  or infection.

• Drowning from cushions or plastic bags.

• Compaction of trachea because of hanging or strangulation.

• Compaction of thorax because of dirt or sand fall, collision on wall or pressure in rush.

• Lungs suffering.

• Spasms that prevent normal breathing.

• Situations that influence the brain or the nerves that control breathing, such as

-Paralysis because of brain damage (apoplexy) or suffering of spinal marrow

• Situations that influence the quantity of oxygen in the blood, such as

-Small content of air in oxygen, as with entrapment in buildings, tunnels full of poisonous gases or tobaccos.
-Change of atmospheric pressure in high altitudes, in depressurized planes or dives in big depths.

General symptoms

• Difficulty of breathing and increase of frequency and its depth.

• Noisy breathing with rattle and rumbles.

• It is possible for foam to be formed in the mouth.

• Cyanosis (bluish colour on lips and nails)

• Confusion

• Possibility of loss of senses

• Breathing could stop


To maintain or restore breathing suffering by removing the cause of suffocation from the sufferer fast. Where necessary, use artificial breathing and search of medical help.

General treatment

• Remove the cause of suffocation

• Opening up airways and artificial breathing

• Control of breathing, pulse and sufferer’s response

• Direct call of medical help.


Suffocation from obstruction of airways because of food or other objects

It is caused when the airways are blocked by an object and has advanced during the ingestion not to the oesophagus, but to the trachea. Adults can suffer obstruction from pieces of food that they do not chew well and they swallow fast. Children are in danger from the objects that they like to put in their mouth.

• It is necessary for the object to be removed immediately. When the sufferer has his/her senses, encourage him/her to cough in order to remove the object from his throat.

• If this is not possible, strike the sufferer with your palm on the back, in the region between the scapulas, up to four times.

• Afterwards and only if this fails, you should try to expel air from the sufferer’s lungs with abrupt pressure of the abdomen. In this technique stand or kneel behind the sufferer and pass your hand in front of his abdomen. Close your fist with your thumb facing in and then place your fist in the centre of his/her upper part of abdomen (in the stomach) between the navel and the breastbone. Grab your fist with the other hand. Bending your elbows pull both of your hands towards you with a fast movement and with a direction up and in, in order to compress the upper part of the abdomen in the lungs base. Repeat the movement if it needs up to four times. Each pressure must be strong enough so that it causes the detachment of the object.

• When the sufferer has loss of conscience, begin artificial breathing in order to try and pass air beyond the obstacle to the lungs. If you do not succeed, give him/her up to 4 blows on the back and check if the object has extracted. If the obstruction insists, attempt artificial breathing once again.

• Take care of the sufferer’s transport to the hospital.