What is Choking?

Choking is the mechanical obstruction of the flow of air from the environment into the lungs. Choking prevents breathing, and can be partial or complete, with partial choking allowing some, although inadequate, flow of air into the lungs. Prolonged or complete choking results in asphyxia which leads to anoxia and is potentially fatal. Oxygen stored in the blood and lungs can keep a person alive for several minutes after breathing stops.

Choking can be caused by:

  • Physical obstruction of the airway by a foreign body.
  • Respiratory diseases that involve obstruction of the airway.
  • Compression of the laryngopharynx, larynx or vertebrate trachea in strangulation.
  • Laryngospasm, a temporary closing of the vocal cords, which simulates the feeling of choking.

Obstruction of the airway can occur at the level of the pharynx and the trachea. Foods that can adapt their shape to that of the pharynx (such as bananas, marshmallows, or gelatinous candies) can be a danger not just for children but for persons of any age.

Choking due to a foreign object resulted in 162,000 deaths in 2013 up from 140,000 deaths in 1990.

Questions and answers on "Choking"

I've been suffering from this choking/gagging stuff since the end of Oct 2013. Sometimes, it's so bad I can't breathe, can't inhale or exhale that...

doctor1 MD

Thank you for coming on HCM.
The Ayurveda has secret. Your enlightened doctor has told you there is nothing wrong. OK. We will say you not to...

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Hi Dr this happens random. I may be sitting and watching tv and all of a sudden my saliva tickles my throat and this leads to choking. It is very...

doctor1 MD


There are many causes for your problem, if you have dentures, drink alcohol, have reflux, allergic, lesions in the throat, neurological feel...

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Hi I am 30 y/o. I have been having very forceful coughing either in the middle of trying to drink fluids or immediately after drinking fluids and...

doctor1 MD


Welcome to the forum. I can understand your concern for coughing in middle of drinking fluids.
probably it is because of superior laryngeal...

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