Section IV. PEDIATRIC EMERGENCIES
FOREIGN BODY OBSTRUCTION OF THE AIRWAY
The same things that obstruct an adult's airway can obstruct the airway of a child.
Foreign bodies or a swollen tongue can cause airway obstruction. Additionally, children
are especially prone to aspirate small objects such as peanuts, coins, and small toys.
These objects can cause partial or complete obstruction of the child's airway. Manage
this problem as follows:
a. Try to determine the cause quickly. An accurate history of what is obstructing
the child's airway is essential to clearing the airway.
b. Find out what the child was doing when the emergency occurred.
c. If the child has been ill with a fever, sore throat, or a barking cough, transport
him immediately and rapidly to a medical treatment facility. A child whose breathing is
causing a harsh, shrill sound (stridor) should also be transported immediately to a
medical treatment facility.
d. Take immediate measures to relieve the foreign body obstruction of a child
who was previously healthy and who choked while eating or playing with small toys.
(1) If the child has good air exchange, encourage him to cough
spontaneously. DO NOT interfere with a child's attempts to cough out a foreign object.
(2) If the child has poor air exchange, ineffective coughing, high-pitched
noises on inhalation, increased respiratory distress, and/or cyanosis, manage the
condition as if the partial obstruction was a complete obstruction. See the next
(3) If there is complete airway obstruction (no air exchange at all), treat with
a combination of back blows and chest thrusts.
For up to date information on FBAO, check with the military training network
or the American Heart Association.
DO NOT probe blindly for a foreign object you cannot see.
Anaphylaxis (anaphylactic shock) is an immediate, severe hypersensitivity. This
allergic reaction may occur to a person who comes in contact with something to which
he is extremely allergic. This type of shock is a true emergency, requiring medications
to combat the allergic reaction.