What to do when food gets stuck in the throat ?

Do you want to know how to remove the food stuck in the throat? Have a look into this article and get an idea on what to do when food gets stuck in the throat. Most often when we eat in a hurry, small pieces of food may get stuck in the throat. So keep calm and try the easy home remedies mentioned in this article to get the food unstuck from the throat.

Sometimes when we eat in a hurry or when we do not pay attention to the food due to the habit of chatting with others or watching TV while eating may cause the food to get stuck in the throat. It is common that pieces of food such as fish or chicken bone, crusty bread, hard or crunchy substance in the food may get stuck in the throat. When food gets stuck in the throat, it may cause irritation or a blockage in the throat or throat obstruction and which in turn may sometimes lead to difficulty in breathing or choking. So, to avoid serious damages one must try to remove the food stuck in the throat immediately.

Reasons for food stuck in the throat

Have you ever thought about the reasons for food stuck in the throat? Here are the reasons for the food stuck in the throat.

  1. Improper chewing of food : Eating food in a hurry and not chewing the food properly is one the major reasons for food stuck in the throat. Also having larger bite or swallowing a large piece of dry food may get the food stuck in the throat. So, one must chew the food properly before swallowing. If you are in a hurry, choose food that is easier to chew and swallow. Remember to take smaller bites while eating
  2. Performing multitasks : Eating is one daily task which must be given more importance. But nowadays people are following a busy life style and are performing multitasks while eating. Allocating time to eat is not a waste of time and one should pay attention to the food while eating. Also, while eating food people should avoid the habit of using mobile phone, checking mails, reading newspaper, watching television, playing video games, driving a car, etc. because doing other tasks in the middle of eating may create diversion and may cause food stuck in the throat
  3. Bad sitting posture : Poor sitting posture while eating may affect the digestive system and may cause food stuck in the throat. So, one must sit straight and have food. If you sit straight and have food, then the food will pass easily from the throat to the stomach via esophagus without getting stuck in the throat. Lying in the bed and eating or sitting in other bad posture while eating will lead to food stuck in the throat
  4. Weak muscles in the throat : Older people who have weaker pharynx and weaker muscles in the throat usually suffer from food stuck in the throat because it is obvious that if you have weaker muscles in the esophagus and throat, you may find it difficult to swallow the food and may not be able to eat in a relaxed way

Risks of food stuck in the throat

The people who suffer from food stuck in the throat must be given immediate relief because it may lead to other health risks. Some of the common symptoms and risks of food stuck in the throat are listed below
  • Severe cough
  • Choking
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Burning feeling in the throat or chest
  • Harder food substance when stuck in the throat may create a wound and cause infection in the throat
  • Air deprivation due to throat obstruction which may lead to death

Easy ways to remove food stuck in the throat

When food gets stuck in your throat or in your child's throat, do not panic. For serious conditions, visit a doctor or else you can keep calm and try any of the best possible ways mentioned below to dislodge and remove the food stuck in the throat immediately.

  • Drink plenty of water : If food gets stuck in the throat, then first try to dissolve the food with the saliva in the mouth because the saliva itself will dislodge or dissolve the food. Even after swallowing excess saliva if you feel the presence of food in the throat, and then drink plenty of water. Drinking plenty of water will help to push the food particle or loosen the blockage in the throat. Never drink hot water when something gets stuck in the throat because hot water may burn the throat and may cause throat infection
  • Cough it out : If drinking liquid does not help you to remove the food stuck, then try coughing because heavy coughing sometimes dislodge the food. While coughing the throat will constrict and will expel the food particles that are stuck in the throat. Contraction of throat muscles while coughing will help to push the food out of the throat
  • Swallow cooked rice : Another easy remedy to get the food unstuck from the throat is to swallow a small ball of cooked rice without chewing. Directly swallowing cooked or sticky rice will help to dislodge the food. It is one the best methods to remove the fish or chicken bone stuck in the throat. Dipping a piece of bread in water and swallowing it directly will also help to remove the discomfort in the throat
  • Drink diet coke or soda : Carbonated beverages like coke or soda will dislodge the food piece stuck in the throat. So, drink diet coke or soda if food gets stuck in the throat. Gulping it 2 or 3 times will definitely give a relief in the throat. But in most of the cases, diet coke or soda may clear this problem. In the worst case i.e. if the piece is very large, drinking carbonated beverages can irritate the stomach or esophagus and may cause other serious complications. If people who suffer from swallowing problems drink carbonated beverages, it may worsen the situation.
  • Gargle with salt water : To alleviate the irritation in the throat, add a pinch of salt to the warm water and dissolve it. Ensure that the water is not so hot and gargle using the dissolved salt water for about 3 or 4 times. Using hot water to gargle will create a burning sensation in the throat so avoid using hot water. Gargling with warm salt water solution will dislodge the food stuck in the throat. But remember in some worst case, gargling using salt water that too especially when your stomach is full may create a vomiting sensation
  • Swallow a tablespoon of olive oil : To allow the obstruction slide down to the stomach, you can swallow a tablespoon of olive oil because it is a smoothing agent. Swallowing olive oil provides lubrication and will easily dislodge the food stuck in the throat. Instead of directly having a tablespoon of olive oil, you can also boil the olive oil along with a glass of water and can drink the warm liquid to remove the blockage in the throat
  • Eat bananas : The stickiness present in the banana may easily move the food stuck in the throat to the stomach. So, take a banana and keep it in your mouth for few minutes without chewing. After few minutes, the banana will get moist. Slowly swallow the banana once it is moist. Swallowing a banana will definitely help to remove the food in the throat
  • Swallow a raw egg : To remove food stuck in the throat, swallow a raw or uncooked egg. Just crack the shell of the egg and swallow both the yolk and the white part. Before cracking the egg, wash the outer shell of the egg to remove the germs and the bacteria present on it. Many people will find distasteful to have a raw egg but this is one easy technique to bring the food down to the stomach from the throat. Having a raw egg is good for health, so when food gets stuck in the throat try to have a raw egg

When to visit a doctor ?

If the above mentioned home remedies fail, then you can seek for a medical help from the doctor. As mentioned earlier, food stuck in the throat may lead to serious health risks. So, immediately visit a doctor and get a proper treatment. Some of the serious symptoms which need immediate medical assistance are listed below.

  • Chocking
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Pain when swallowing food
  • Pain in the chest or abdomen
  • Blood vomiting due to an infection or a wound caused by the food particle in the throat

Medical treatment to remove food stuck in the throat

In some serious cases only medical treatment will help to remove food stuck in the throat. Mentioned below is the step by step medical treatment carried out by the doctors to remove food stuck in the throat.

  • Step 1: Determination of the location of food stuck : To identify the location of food stuck in the throat or esophagus, the medical care may take an X-ray or a CT scan or a laryngoscopy depending upon the symptoms of the patient. An endoscopy is performed to identify the level of damage the food has caused to the digestive tract
  • Step 2: Removal of food : Once the location of food stuck in the throat is determined, the doctors will try to remove the piece of food which got stuck in the throat. Mostly an endoscopy itself will be carried out to remove the food. If the doctors find it difficult to remove the piece of food from the throat, then a surgery may be performed
  • Step 3: Medications : After the removal of food stuck from the throat, it may cause an infection or a pain in the throat. So, to treat such infection or pain, doctors may prescribe some medications depending upon the severity condition of the throat

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Author: neeru bhatt23 Sep 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 3

Very exhaustive article on a very important subject which often happens in a household. From the elders in our house advise that if there is a choking due to external material in the throat of a small child or infant then we have to hang him head down and legs up and knock on his back a few times and this object will come out from his throat.
I do not know how true this is and what is the scientific basis for this. Many people claim that it works well.

Author: T.M.Sankaran24 Sep 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 2

An informative article. A major cause for for getting stuck in the throat will be talking while eating. Try to minimize talking while eating. That will definitely help reducing this blocking of throat. Sometimes certain food items such as fish cause this, may be the fish bone getting stuck in the throat. In such cases only physical removal of the bone can help. An external help, like a nurse or a doctor's help will be required.

Author: Natarajan25 Sep 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 8

Nice detailed article. Being unable to swallow food taken in a hurry is quite common. Sometimes it can get stuck in the throat or food pipe. Difficulty to breathe or choking indicate a much more serious issue and medical help should be sought sooner, more so in infants and small children.

Inducing forceful vomiting can harm the food pipe at times causing bleeding and rupture of a small part of the food pipe. Here again, it's better to see a doctor especially if there is a persistent pain, a sensation of vomiting and fever.

When you see someone choking or gasping for air after trying to swallow a large piece of food or meat and no medical help is close by and precious time is being lost, then you can try applying forceful pressure on the victims abdomen between the umbilicus and rib cage by standing behind the victim and place your fist just above his or her navel and with your other hand over your fist. It is like literally hugging the victim from behind. Then apply upward pressure on the victim's upper abdomen (between the rib cage and the navel). This often helps to dislodge the impacted food. This is what the medics call as Heimlich maneuver.

Unfortunately, If you are alone helpless and you are gasping for air, then you can bend down on the edge of a chair's back or a table of suitable height close by and press down to generate the pressure needed to dislodge the lump of food. You can get trained in basic life support from nearby organizations/hospitals.

Parents and relatives often put a finger to scoop out a large food ball from a baby or small child who is struggling to swallow. It is important to know that by our anxiety and eagerness, the lump of food can be pushed towards the windpipe and can worsen the condition. Hence it is advisable to seek medical help even if the child looks well to you for a few minutes.

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