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Removing an obstruction from your own airway

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 17 February 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:450
  1. Marilyn Dover

    One evening recently I ate late. For quickness I cooked some bacon and egg and took the meal on a tray to eat in front of the television. I had not been eating very long when, inexplicably, I swallowed a morsel of food which I had scarcely begun to chew. It seemed to be stuck in my throat. I reacted automatically by trying to swallow it. I realised that something was wrong: I had to work the swallowing muscles consciously and I did so twice more in an effort to move the obstruction. I could not understand what was happening at first. I was not breathing. There was not the tiniest particle of air going into or out of my windpipe. The food was in the wrong tube.

    By this time concern about the discomfort the unchewed mass was causing had taken second place to an acute awareness of the inability to breathe. My mouth and nose were suddenly irrelevant to the process. …

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