Oxygen is found in the air all around us. To get oxygen to the brain, oxygen has to travel from the mouth or nose to the lungs- down the airway. The airway is the pipe that goes into your lungs from your mouth and your nose.  If the airway becomes blocked then air cannot get to the lungs.  This means that oxygen wont go into the blood and this is bad news for our brain.

When you breathe, air is sucked down the airway, into the lungs. Once oxygen is in the lungs, it automatically enters the blood. It then needs pumping all around the body, to reach the brain.

The first thing we need to check is the airway. The most likely thing to be blocking the airway is the tongue.
When you’re not responsive, all the muscles in your body go all floppy. The tongue is a muscle, so goes all floppy, and can then block the airway. The head tilt chin lift moves the tongue out of the way!

 

Blocked AirwayHead Tilt Chin Lift

1. The tongue is blocking the airway      2. Opening it with a head tilt chin lift moves the tongue 

Head Tilt Chin LiftHead Tilt Chin Lift

3 & 4. You put one hand over the forehead, and use two fingers to lift the chin up.

We can have a look to see if there are any sweets or other things in the way, but if there are, we have to be really careful not to push them further down. Don’t try and take anything out of the patient’s mouth, unless you can hook your little finger all the way around the object.

Once you've opened the patient's airway, try and keep it open all the time. If you let go, the airway will just close again.