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Choking Hazards According to Dr. Saad Saad

Dr. Saad Saad is a knowledgeable pediatric surgeon with more than 40 years of experience removing food and objects from children’s tracheas and esophagi (windpipes/food pipes). Over his long and prolific career, he has helped more than 1,000 children between the ages of 6 months and 14 years who have swallowed harmful objects.

When a child swallows a foreign object or inappropriately sized foods, often it passes through the food pipe without harm. In some cases, however, it becomes stuck or mistakenly travels down the windpipe. The windpipe can be obstructed by small objects, such as popcorn kernels or beads, while the food pipe is more commonly blocked by larger objects, such as chunks of meat or coins. Common signs that a child is choking include wheezing and trouble breathing or swallowing.

Out of all foreign objects that can be mistakenly consumed by children, batteries are the most dangerous, often leaking acid that can burn the child’s stomach. Peanuts are also one of the most common choking hazards, as they get lodged in the windpipe, soften and expand in the moisture-rich environment, and fragment easily upon removal attempts. Throughout his career, Dr. Saad has collected many items upon removal, the largest of which being a toothbrush!

If the choking child is under the age of 6, he or she should be held upside down by the legs. Pat their back firmly, and often the object will be shaken free. For an older child, performing the Heimlich Maneuver may be necessary. If efforts to remove an object from an obstructed airway are fruitless, the child must be taken to the emergency room.

There are a few simple rules, as suggested by Dr. Saad, that can help prevent choking incidents. Under the age of 2, no hot dogs should be consumed, and under the age of 7 no peanuts. Watch your children carefully at play, as they are often quick and curious enough to place small items into their mouths.

An endoscope is an optical device that goes down the patient’s pipes, and is extremely useful when an x-ray cannot detect an object. However, the trachea and esophagus produce many liquids that often can inhibit an endoscope’s visibility. Dr. Saad invented a device that functions as an irrigation and suction tool, drawing away obstructing liquid and resulting in clearer images. Learn more: https://www.doximity.com/pub/saad-saad-md

Removing foreign objects from a child’s airways is a difficult, painstaking process. Dr. Saad has accrued much success and expertise over his long career.

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