Choking occurs most often in children, but adults, particularly the elderly, are at risk as well. In 2006, 463 adults age 65 or older died due to choking, reports the Utah Safety Council. Eating too fast, drinking too much alcohol, wearing dentures and head trauma are conditions that make an adult more prone to choking. If an adult begins to choke, call 911 and begin to perform the Heimlich maneuver or CPR, if needed, until help arrives.
A large bite of peanut butter, or other nut butter, can result in choking, even among otherwise healthy adults. The risk is higher for older adults because they produce less saliva, in part due to age and in part due to some medications, according to the Utah Safety Council. Putting peanut butter on white bread increases the risk of choking. To prevent choking on peanut butter, avoid eating a large spoonful plain because it can get lodged in your throat. Spread it thinly on toasted bread or a cracker so that you have to chew it before swallowing, which decreases the risk of it getting stuck on the way down.
Failure to thoroughly chew food is one of the primary reasons an adult chokes. This is especially true for meat, which often needs to be chewed longer than other foods. Adults who wear dentures are at an increased risk of choking on meat because they cannot always properly chew it before swallowing. When eating meat, cut it into small pieces or shred it and chew it well. Ground meats and fish are safer alternatives because they are softer and easier to chew. Hot dogs are a choking hazard among adults as well as children and adults who are prone to choking should avoid eating them or peel and chop them before consuming.
Soft Baked Goods
Many elderly people have trouble chewing soft breads, cookies and cakes and their risk of choking on them are higher than with firmer items. The risk increases if water is consumed with baked goods because it expands the food, which can block the airway. Milk produces a similar danger when drunk with cake or cookies. White bread is softer and poses more risk than other types of bread. Toasted bread is a better option than untoasted for people who are more likely to choke.
Fruit and Vegetable Chunks
Large chunks of fruit are more likely to cause choking, especially hard fruits, such as pineapple and apples. Bananas, melon and berries also a pose a choking risk in large bites. Fruit should be cut into small pieces and chewed well to reduce the risk. Talking and laughing while eating fruit and any other food increases the chances that an adult will choke. Some types of vegetables pose similar risks and include carrots and celery. Mashed squash and baked potatoes are options that are softer and easier to chew well.