Diseases

Esmarch handle in adults

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With the Esmarch handle you can open the mouth of an unconscious person as a first responder - forcibly if necessary, if the jaw muscles are cramped. Then you can see if the mouth and throat are free or have to be freed from a foreign body (for example vomit or the fallen back tongue). Learn here how the Esmarch handle is executed exactly and what risks it entails.

Article overview Esmarch handle in adults
  • Quick Overview
  • How does the Esmarch handle work?
  • When do I make the Esmarch handle?
  • Risks of the Esmarch handle

Quick Overview

  • What is the Esmarch handle? A special grip that a first responder uses to open the mouth of an unconscious person to clear his mouth and throat or keep him free.
  • So goes the Esmarch handle: Kneel behind the affected person with the thumbs on the chin, place the remaining fingers under the jawbones and then push the lower jaw forward and chin downwards.
  • In which cases? In the unconscious, to clear the mouth and throat of any foreign bodies or to place a respiratory aid.
  • risks: In the classic Esmarch grip, the affected person's head is stretched backwards. This can damage the spinal cord in cervical vertebra injuries.

Attention!

  • The correct Esmarch handle is hard to learn. Therefore, in the first aid course, lay people often only get the life-saving handgrip (over-stretching the head). This can damage the spinal cord in cervical spine injury.
  • For (suspected) cervical spine injuries, use the modified Esmarch handle. The head remains in neutral (normal) position.
  • Forcibly opening the mouth with this handle is exhausting and requires practice.
  • Wear disposable gloves whenever possible with the Esmarch handle (as with general first aid measures).
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How does the Esmarch handle work?

The Esmarch handle is named after the German surgeon Friedrich von Esmarch (1823-1908). It serves to open the mouth of an unconscious and to clear mouth and throat or to keep it free. The Esmarch handle is also necessary if you want to place various breathing aids.

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