Symptoms and Signs of Choking

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Choking

Choking is a medical emergency that is life-threatening. It is known as foreign body airway obstruction and refers to the situation in which air is blocked from entering the lungs due to the presence of a foreign object in the airway. Inhalation or ingestion of food or another object is the cause of choking. Food most commonly causes choking in adults, but in young children, swallowing of small objects, such as pieces of toys, is also a common cause of choking.

The characteristic symptom of choking is the sudden inability to breathe or talk. Associated symptoms can include gasping, wheezing, coughing, gagging, clutching or gesturing to the throat, and panic. The skin may take on a bluish appearance, and the victim may lose consciousness or pass out.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.