A Child’s Airway
Did you know children have much smaller airways than adults? In fact, kids have larger tongues in comparison to their airway and can often have a floppy epiglottis, (“a flap in the throat that keeps food from entering the windpipe and the lungs”) Wikipedia. Due to a child’s airway anatomy this can put them at a greater risk for choking. Choking is one of the leading causes of injury in children.
As pediatric recovery room nurses we see children that have choked on all kinds of foods and other objects – from coins to hair clips. Here is a list of the 6 most common foods we see being trapped in a child’s airway, trachea, esophagus and even lungs:
A: Foods that are the same size or bigger than a child’s airway.
- These foods include 1) steak, 2) hot dogs, 3) hard candy, 4) carrots, 5) grapes. These foods can be tough and difficult for an adult to eat. Imagine children, who have much smaller airways, who don’t have all of their teeth and who are immature eater trying to eat these hard foods? In a blink of an eye these foods can become lodged in their airway, thus becoming a life threatening situation.
B: Foods that are smaller than a child’s airway.
- Any Type of 6) Nuts (including popcorn) – We have seen numerous children in serious condition who have choked on nuts. The nuts can get stuck in the airway and or break up into several tiny pieces into the lungs, greatly compromising the child’s ability to breath.
Caregivers should always be aware of what their child is putting in their mouth. Whether it be at meal time or playtime help keep a child’s airway open and safe.
Just a reminder, if you know of anyone in need of surgery send them our way. We would love your help to spread the word about our “Surgery Day” book and all of our other resources.