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Choking happens when someone's airway suddenly gets blocked, either fully or partly, so they can't breathe.
This information applies to adults and children over 1 year old.
If you want advice for babies under 1 year old, see What should I do if a baby is choking?
If the airway is only partly blocked, the person will usually be able to speak, cry, cough or breathe.
They'll usually be able to clear the blockage themselves.
To help with mild choking in an adult or child over 1 year old:
If coughing doesn't work, start back blows.
Where choking is severe, the person won't be able to speak, cry, cough or breathe. Without help, they'll eventually become unconscious.
To carry out a back blow on an adult or child over 1 year old:
Don't give abdominal thrusts to babies under 1 year old or pregnant women.
To carry out an abdominal thrust:
If the person's airway is still blocked after trying back blows and abdominal thrusts, get help immediately:
If they lose consciousness and aren't breathing, you should begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with chest compressions.
Find out how to do compression-only CPR and CPR with rescue breaths
Get urgent medical help at an A&E, NHS walk-in centre or a GP if:
Abdominal thrusts can cause serious injuries. A health professional such as your GP or a doctor in A&E should always examine someone after they have received abdominal thrusts.
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