Is it choking or strangulation?

Fact Checked

Choking or strangulation involves limitation of air brought about by something other than disease but choking comes from within the throat while strangulation comes from outside.

Close look on choking

Choking is defined as airway obstruction due to a foreign body. It is an object physically in the way of air moving in and out of the trachea. Generally, choking is caused by food.

The foreign body might end up stuck in the trachea, directly blocking the airflow. It might also be a large-sized foreign object that is stuck in the esophagus and squeezes the trachea from behind. In either way, the foreign body is within which causes choking.

Choking is defined as airway obstruction due to a foreign body. It is an object physically in the way of air moving in and out of the trachea.

It can be managed once recognized in time. The treatment for choking is based on the age of the individual. If the victim is an infant, it is treated in a different manner than adults and children over than a year. The choking among adults and children older than 1 year is ideally treated with the Heimlich maneuver.


Strangulation is defined as limitation of airflow via the trachea from something squeezing from the outside.

Whether intentionally or by accident, anything wrapping around the neck hard enough to limit the airflow via the trachea causes strangulation.

The treatment for strangulation is prompt removal of the object or device responsible for the injury. It is important to note that this can lead to significant neck injury and deformity of the trachea. It often necessitates advanced airway management that only a healthcare professional can provide.

Any individual who has been strangled by accident or unintentionally requires emergency assistance. Damage to the trachea might not appear detrimental right away but the inflammation in the tissues bordering the trachea can result to the development of a secondary limitation of airflow in just a few minutes once the neck is released.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on choking or strangulation is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the indications, register for a first aid and CPR course with Red Deer First Aid.

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