Weekly First-aid Topic: Do not drink vinegar or swallow food with a fishbone sticking in your throat or it may life-threatening
From:Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning


In the just past Spring Festival, fish was an essential dish of our meals. Have you ever experienced a fishbone sticking in the throat? Does drinking vinegar, swallowing food and other “indigenous methods” work?

Drinking vinegar to remove fishbone is basically useless. Vinegar can indeed dissolve fishbone consisting of calcium to achieve the purpose of softening the fishbone, but the effective acetic acid content of vinegar is 4%-6%. Such a low content of acetic acid needs a long time to soften the fishbone. Acetic acid burns the esophageal mucous membranes of young children, resulting in severe injuries, more severe pain and even acute laryngeal edema. Therefore, drinking vinegar cannot remove fishbone vinegar. It may also damage the laryngeal mucosa.

Swallowing food to remove fishbone is dangerous. Gobbling up rice and stuffing steamed bun to swallow the fishbone is sometimes effective. Balls of food can carry the fishbone and separate it from the original part. However, it should be noted that this method is only applicable to the case where the fishbone is thin and slightly stuck in the throat. A considerable number of people will feel more and more painful after swallowing rice and steamed bun, because the food pushes the fishbone deeper. This may cause damage to the throat mucous membrane, causing infection, swelling, inflammation and even laryngeal edema causing suffocation. Therefore, these “indigenous methods” do not work and may be life-threatening.