Is Choking the same as Strangulation?

Difference Between Choking and Strangulation

Both Impair Air Flow but in Different Ways

The terms choking and strangulation both refer to restriction of air in the trachea (windpipe)—the tube that connects the larynx (voice box) to the bronchi (the large airways that branch off to enter each lung).

A man doing the heimlich maneuver on a woman

However, each word describes a different mechanism by which air is restricted. When a person is choking, some sort of foreign object inside the body is blocking airflow. When someone is being strangled, an outside force is exerting enough pressure to impede movement of air.

Because both choking and strangulation can lead to serious injury and even death, it’s important to understand the differences between them, including the ways in which each cause harm, how to recognize when someone is choking or has been strangled, and what to do if you or someone else is experiencing either. 

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