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Gag reflex: what is it and how does it differ from choking?

Gag reflex: what is it and how does it differ from choking?


The natural reaction to discomfort during breastfeeding helps prevent conditions where the throat becomes blocked, but it can confuse parents

OR choking in children It is one of the major concerns for parents, since it involves an interruption of breathing that requires immediate attention. But it can be confused with another situation, completely natural and that does not represent the same risk for the child: vomiting reflex.




The big question, especially for first-time parents, is how to differentiate the two situations.

After all, what is the gag reflex?

Gag comes from English, and the most appropriate way to translate this expression would be “vomit reflex”. In Portuguese, the name is much more descriptive, and that is exactly what it is: a natural reaction to a certain stimulus, which makes the child react as if he were retching.

The vomiting reflex tends to appear more frequently during the introduction of foodwhen the baby previously accustomed to breastfeeding begins to deal with foods of different consistencies. Since he is not yet accustomed to the consistencies, he may feel uncomfortable when he puts something in his mouth, triggering the reflex.

One of the important points to remember is that the gag reflex actually protects the child from a choking situation. Thanks to this reaction, he is able to eliminate a food that could cause problems, either by spitting it out or by bringing it back to the mouth to try to “chew” it better.

It is recommended to introduce food when the child can support himself while sittingwhich facilitates the effectiveness of the vomiting reflex: in this position, the expelled food comes out of the mouth with the help of gravity.

How to distinguish the gag reflex from choking?

Choking occurs when something blocks a child’s throat, totally or partially preventing the entry of air. While in the vomiting reflex the child is able to expel food by himself without entering into a risky situation, This does not happen in suffocation.

Differentiating the two situations is essential observe signs of shortness of breath in the child. The gag reflex usually resolves quickly without anyone’s intervention, while in choking it is possible to observe the child in agony because he cannot breathe, with a coughing fit and a change in the color of his lips, for example, which become red or purple due to lack of air.

If a choking situation is identified, the child should be subjected to a Heimlich maneuverand call emergency services immediately if breathing does not return.

Source: Terra

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