The case of swallowing the tongue.. A simple way to help the person!

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

We hear about many cases of soccer players who swallowed their tongues and fell to the ground during matches! However, is it true that the reason behind their fall and loss of consciousness is swallowing the tongue? In this article, learn about the first aid that can be given to a person in case of swallowing the tongue.

Although this condition is called tongue swallowing, it is a misnomer, because in this condition the person does not swallow their tongue, but rather the structures of the soft palate are lax, and the tongue retracts toward the back of the throat, blocking the airway and preventing the person from breathing.

This condition occurs when experiencing an epileptic seizure, sudden loss of consciousness, or when sleeping as a result of suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. The direct reason for the impossibility of swallowing the tongue is due to the tight attachment of the tongue tissues to the mouth, which prevents the person from swallowing his tongue.

Symptoms of choking due to swallowing of the tongue

The main symptom of suffocation resulting from swallowing the tongue is the patient’s inability to breathe due to the blockage of the airway resulting from the relaxation and retraction of the tongue into the throat. Symptoms of suffocation that the patient may suffer from also include:

  • Throat constipation.
  • Not being able to speak.
  • Unusual breathing sounds.
  • The possibility of changing the color of the face.

How do you know when someone is in danger of choking?

Symptoms of choking can vary depending on the severity of the patient’s health condition, and include: These symptoms:

  • Not being able to breathe.
  • Not being able to speak.
  • Throat constipation.
  • Sensation of pain in the throat and neck.
  • Sensation of chest pain.
  • Cough.
  • Unusual breathing sounds.
  • blushing.
  • Lips change color to blue.

Take immediate action if tongue is swallowed

Swallowing the tongue results from the relaxation of the tongue muscles in the event of an epileptic seizure, loss of consciousness, or when sleeping, which leads to the relaxation of the tongue towards the throat, especially when the person is lying on his back, which impedes the person’s ability to breathe, and includes first aid that can be provided in Tongue swallowing:

Step-by-step instructions on how to help someone who has swallowed their tongue

recovery position
recovery position
  • Explain the recovery position

It means the recovery position, the protective side position, or the left side lying position, which paramedics resort to when they want to provide first aid to an unconscious person, and the aim is to keep the airway open so that the patient can breathe.

  • Other ways to clear the airway

It is possible to free the airway of people with swallowing of the tongue by raising the chin of the injured person or pushing his jaw in the event that his spine is likely to be injured. What should be paid attention to in the case of freeing the airway is not to put anything in the mouth of the injured person or insert fingers in his mouth when wanting to help him. In addition to removing the gum shield if the patient used it.

Prevent swallowing of the tongue while sleeping

First aid for swallowing the tongue

Explain first aid techniques for swallowing the tongue

To provide first aid for tongue swallowing and to clear the airway:

  • Extend the person to the ground.
  • Sit next to the unconscious person.
  • Tilt the person’s head back and lift the chin up to open the airway.

These techniques lift the tongue off the back of the throat to free the airway and help the person breathe.

How to perform CPR on someone who has swallowed their tongue

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be performed on a person who has swallowed their tongue if they are unconscious and not breathing, and its steps include:

  • Call an ambulance after making sure that the person is unconscious and not breathing.
  • Place the person in a safe place on a hard surface.
  • Sit on the knees.
  • Place your hand in the center of the patient’s chest and place your other hand on top of it.
  • Make sure your arms are straight from the top of the shoulder to the hands.
  • Chest compressions about 100 to 120 times per minute.
  • When pressing on the chest 30 times, be sure to close the nose and give two breaths from your mouth to the mouth of the unconscious person until you notice the chest of the victim rising.
  • Re-compress the chest for 40 compressions, then blow twice in the mouth.
  • Repeat the process until the patient wakes up or the ambulance arrives.

CPR helps as a first aid method while waiting for the ambulance to arrive to rescue the person, in order to prevent the person from dying before it arrives and to help him regain his breathing.

Aid swallowing the tongue resulting from fainting

To aid a person in the event of swallowing the tongue resulting from fainting, he should be moved to the recovery position or the side protective position, in order to prevent the tongue from returning towards the throat and freeing the airway: Steps include placing the injured person in Side protective position:

  • Sit on the knees next to the injured person.
  • Extend the person’s first arm to the floor when they are lying on their back.
  • Bend the other arm to the side of the chest, with the patient’s hand placed on his cheek.
  • Keep one leg straight on the ground.
  • Use the second foot to place the person on his side.
  • Fix the second foot in the bent position.
  • Tilt the patient’s head back to keep the airway open.
  • Ensure that the tongue is lifted from the back of the throat, and that the person has regained breathing.

Also read: Putting keys in his hand will not help! Here are 9 things to do when you faint

Aid swallowing the tongue caused by epilepsy

One of the mistakes that some people make when a person with epilepsy has a seizure is to put something in his mouth to prevent him from swallowing his tongue, but this method can cause him to suffocate or have wounds at the level of the mouth. In return, include Methods of first aid for a person exposed to an epileptic seizure:

  • Put him in a safe place when he has a spasm.
  • Put it on one side.
  • Loosen ties or neck jewelry.
  • Remove glasses if you are wearing them.
  • Remove hard and sharp objects near him to protect against the risk of cuts or injuries.
  • Call an ambulance if the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes.

Also read: Epilepsy: a mental illness or a neurological disorder?

Prevent swallowing of the tongue

To prevent the unconscious person from swallowing his tongue again after receiving first aid, it is advised not to put fingers or any solid object in the mouth of the injured person to avoid suffocation or injury. Instead, care should be taken to keep the airway open to allow air to circulate until the ambulance arrives and the injured person receives necessary treatment.

Tips to prevent swallowing of the tongue

There are many tips that should be followed to prevent swallowing of the tongue after providing first aid to the person and waiting for the ambulance to arrive for the patient to receive the necessary treatments. These tips include:

  • Do not place a solid object under the person’s head, but continue to raise the chin to the top so that he can breathe.
  • Do not insert your finger or a hard object into the patient’s mouth to prevent him from swallowing his tongue.
  • Not allowing the person to stand.
  • Be sure to remove anything that is blocking the airway.
  • Do not move away from the injured person until the ambulance arrives.

Common causes of tongue swallowing and how to avoid them

The tongue can fall back, causing a blockage in the throat, when experiencing an epileptic seizure, when sleeping, or when losing consciousness.It is a situation that cannot happenBecause the tissues of the tongue are firmly attached to the mouth, which prevents a person from swallowing their tongue. Therefore, in the event that the tongue retracts towards the back of the throat, it is recommended to provide first aid based on raising the person’s chin to the top, or changing the person’s position to a protective side position if he is unconscious, while avoiding putting something in his mouth to avoid suffocation.

Finally, you can benefit from training in the methods and techniques of aiding a person in a state of fainting, and being able to save the life of another person before the arrival of the ambulance, by registering in the first aid courses organized by Shefa. You can register and fill out aApplication form for benefiting from the training course in first aid.

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