Airway Obstruction | Diagnosis & Treatment

How is airway obstruction diagnosed?

A health care provider may order an x-ray or perform a bronchoscopy to determine if a child’s airway is blocked and the location of the blockage.

How is airway obstruction treated?

Treatment for a blocked airway depends on the size of the object and where it is lodged in the airway.

  • The child may cough the item up or pass it through the gastrointestinal tract
  • An emergency medical responder or other health care provider may be able to dislodge the item with thrusts to the child's back, chest, or abdomen.
  • Surgery may be necessary to remove an item that has gotten stuck or is causing internal damage to the child's airways or stomach.

Parents should seek emergency medical care for their child right away if their child is struggling to breathe, turns blue or has swallowed a magnet or battery.