What can I do to remove a fish bone stuck in my throat?

Fish is the favorite food of many people around the world, being a type of meat with which delicious dishes are prepared, such as surimi. However, the consumption of this food can be risky, since there is the possibility of having a fish bone stuck in the throat.

Fish bones have a characteristic pointed shape, which is capable of causing injury. Thus, cooks try to remove all of these bones before preparing any dish. However, there are spines so small that they can be overlooked.

Having a fish bone stuck in the digestive tract is a frequent accident, especially among children and adults with psychiatric illnesses. In addition, studies show that these bones can migrate to other tissues and locate in organs, such as the thyroid gland.

What does a stuck fish bone feel like?

When a person ingests any foreign body, symptoms begin immediately and fish bones are no exception. Patients usually report discomfort from the first moment the event occurs.

In fact, the intensity of the signs increases when it is an object with a considerable size.

Among the main symptoms reported by a person with a fish bone stuck in the throat, the following stand out:

  • Dysphagia and odynophagia, that is, difficulty and pain when swallowing.
  • Sensation of a stuck foreign body in the throat.
  • Cough constant and intense.
  • Tingling or itching in the throat
  • Sharp pain in the neck if the thorn is stuck.
  • Excessive saliva production.
  • Hemoptysis or coughing up blood.

Possible consequences

It is possible for the spine to travel down the esophagus without getting stuck at any time. However, it can cause injuries along the way, due to its sharp edges. One of the most common complications is a cut or abrasion to the throat or esophagus.

People with this type of injury may report the presence of a foreign object in the throat and pain when swallowing. In the most severe cases, bleeding and respiratory distress occur, so should be considered a medical emergency.

Other common complications in people with foreign objects stuck in the throat include:

  • Profuse bleeding
  • Swelling and bruising.
  • Inability to swallow
  • Esophageal infection or abscesses.

Choking on different objects is serious. In children and psychiatric patients it represents a high risk of life.

Also read: Blue or white fish: which is the best option?

3 ways to remove a fish bone stuck in your throat

In most cases, the fish bones are very small, so the same body pushes them down without causing any damage. When they reach the stomach, they are digested by gastric juices and expelled through the feces. The real problem lies when the spines are of considerable size.

Generally speaking, you should always see a doctor when a foreign body is ingested. However, there are certain techniques that can be used to remove a fish bone stuck in the throat when there is no time to reach professional intervention.

1. Cough

Coughing is one of the body's natural defense mechanisms. It is useful for expelling foreign objects from the airways and esophagus.

When a person coughs there is a sudden increase in intrathoracic pressure, so any object stuck in this area can be easily expelled.

Whenever a fish bone or other object is swallowed, the first instinct is to cough. In these cases you should try to do it with a force greater than usual, in order to unclog the object.

However, you should see a doctor immediately if blood is expelled or chest pain occurs during the process.

Find out more: Chest pain when coughing, what are its causes?

2. Ingest water or olive oil

Fish bones tend to get very frequently stuck in the tonsils and the base of the tongue, according to what multiple studies report. These areas are characterized by being easily accessible and food exerts some pressure when passing through them.

In this way, It is recommended to drink 1 glass of water or 2 tablespoons of olive oil to unclog the thorn. The water will exert a slight, continuous downward pressure, which can cause the spine to descend into the stomach.

For its part, oil is a lubricating substance, which will make the foreign body slide across the surface, facilitating its expulsion through coughing.

3. Eating slimy foods

Foods with a slimy consistency can be the best allies when you have a fish bone stuck in your throat. They form a homogeneous mass when swallowed, which can wrap the spine and carry it to the stomach.

Among the foods with this quality, the following stand out:

  • Marshmallows
  • Bananas
  • Peanut butter bread.
  • Bread soaked in water.

When is it necessary to go to the doctor?

As we said, it is always necessary to see a doctor when a fish bone is suspected to have been swallowed, since it is the only way to determine if there is an esophageal lesion. Sometimes the spine descends smoothly, but causes a cut along the way, which can become infected and cause an abscess.

In addition, people should also see a doctor immediately if the spine is still stuck after several minutes. This can lead to serious complications, although they are seldom fatal.

On the other hand, one should be alert to the presence of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Pain in the chest or neck
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood.
  • Inability to ingest liquids or food.
  • Swelling in the area.

Medical options to remove the fish bone

When the fish bone does not come out on its own, medical removal will be the only option available. The specialist you can remove the foreign body using forceps, if it is in an accessible area of ​​the throat. To perform this procedure it is necessary that the spine is visible to the naked eye, when opening the mouth.

On the other hand, if the spine descended into the esophagus, it will be necessary to perform an endoscopy for extraction. This is a procedure in which a small flexible tube is inserted into a body cavity to observe what is happening there.

One of the biggest advantages is that it is a minimally invasive procedure, so the recovery is immediate. In addition, it also allows to treat any existing complication, such as a laceration, a hemorrhage or an ulcer.

Medical professionals have the option of performing an endoscopy to remove jammed foreign objects.

Prevent choking

One of the best preventive measures is thoroughly remove all bones from the fish before preparing, especially if it is salmon, tarpon or trout. It is also recommended to chew the meat slowly, multiple times, in order to detect a thorn before swallowing.

This type of accident is very common in people with dental prostheses, since they have problems feeling the spines when chewing. On the other hand, it is necessary to be alert in the case of children and the elderly.

If you have a fish bone stuck in your throat, the first thing to do is stay calm and follow any of the recommendations mentioned. It is important to go to the specialist if the spine does not come out or if there is any complication, since only the professional will be able to solve the problem definitively.