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Don't perform the Heimlich maneuver on a person who is choking but can still speak.
Each year, 3,000–4,000 Americans die from choking, or pulmonary aspiration — about the same as the number who die by drowning. Choking happens mainly during meals, and meat is the chief culprit. But food and small objects aren't the only causes. Swelling from a severe allergic reaction — or in an unconscious person, the tongue — can prevent air from flowing into the lungs.