Choking asphyxia is the third cause of unnatural death in Spain ahead of traffic accidents. In 2017, a total of 2,336 people lost their lives because a piece of food or other object prevented them from breathing and nobody managed to help them expel him, according to the report. National Institute of Statistics (INE). They are only placed above the number suicides (3,679) and deaths due to accidental falls (3,057).
The majority of those who died of choking were over 65 (2,112). Something that the general secretary of the Spanish Otorhinolaryngology Society, Raimundo Gutiérrez, blames on dysphagia, that is, the difficulty to swallow that appears as a symptom of many diseases. "People who have suffered an ctus, suffer from ELA or neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's are very likely to develop swallowing problems and therefore must follow a diet adapted to their limitations, "he said by telephone. However, data from the INE indicate that of the total deaths due to suffocation, only 212 were due to food choking. The rest were caused by other objects. "Pills and fragments of teeth are the most common," says Gutierrez, who is also the head of the Otorhinolaryngology Unit of the Rey Juan Carlos Hospital. He adds: "In the case of children, toys and marbles are the most common elements."
The doctor warns that there are cases of choking that, although they do not produce the immediate death of the sufferer, they become aspirative pneumonias when the object moves to the lung and generate an infection that can end with the death of the patient. "And these deaths do not figure in the statistics," ditch. Last year, four children under the age of 14 were choked by objects and three by food. The last, Tiago, a 3-year-old boy who suffocated last year because of a grape in Gijón (Asturias). The child arrived at Jove's Hospital without breathing and the resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful.
"Age is fundamental in these cases, since children have not yet developed the ability to swallow, and the elderly are losing it," says Antonio Guzmán, director of Mapfre Salud promotion. The foundation of this insurer launched the campaign in 2015 SOS Respira and developed a mobile application, available on iOS and Android, which explains through videos how to act to reverse a choking.
To develop this software have had the collaboration of the Spanish Society of Emergency Medicine (Semes). In addition, they have conducted courses aimed at catering to know the Heimlich maneuver, which consists of abdominal compression to release the respiratory tract. "We have reached more than 8,000 catering establishments that we have taught through a vest with an artificial esophagus and stomach, how to press the abdomen," says Guzmán
"First aid at school"
The Mapfre Foundation urges public administrations to promote the teaching of resuscitation techniques. "First aid must be part of the school curriculum. The efforts of the education and health authorities should be focused on everyone knowing how to act when a crisis of this type occurs, because saving life depends on seconds, "says Guzmán. They also demand that food handlers receive this type of training in order to obtain the certificate.