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    When someone is knocked out unconscious you're supposed to put them in the recovery position on their side to clear their airway and ensure they do not choke on their tongue.

    Can someone explain to me why this can happen whilst unconscious but you never hear of it happening whilst sleeping [unless drunk]

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    It's to do with the fact that when you're unconscious, each of your muscles it totally relaxed, including your tongue. As there's no bone, it can then move any way it wants.
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    (Original post by psychocustard)
    It's to do with the fact that when you're unconscious, each of your muscles it totally relaxed, including your tongue. As there's no bone, it can then move any way it wants.
    But not when you're asleep?

    Is being knocked unconscious then a much more deeper form of being unconscious whilst sleeping or are they actually entirely different states?

    A difference of kind or degree?
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    You can't choke on your tongue, that is nonsense and not why you put people in the recovery position. You do it to allow any fluid e.g. blood/vomit in the neck to drain out, rather than into the lungs so the person doesnt suffocate.
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    (Original post by RyanT)
    But not when you're asleep?

    Is being knocked unconscious then a much more deeper form of being unconscious whilst sleeping or are they actually entirely different states?

    A difference of kind or degree?
    Totally different. When you're asleep, your brain is still in a state of consciousness, which is why, for example, if someone calls your name, you'll wake up and respond to it.
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    (Original post by TheNack)
    You can't choke on your tongue, that is nonsense and not why you put people in the recovery position. You do it to allow any fluid e.g. blood/vomit in the neck to drain out, rather than into the lungs so the person doesnt suffocate.
    No, you really can choke on your tongue and die...
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    (Original post by psychocustard)
    No, you really can choke on your tongue and die...
    That is a myth, your tongue is fixed in place so it can't be swallowed in any way.
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    I think it may be because the act of becoming unconscious is going to be sudden (obviously, maybe a knock to the head, a fall etc).
    The tongue is where it is at that time, and by the time you come to be resting on the floor/wherever you are, in an unconscious state, the tongue has flopped anywhere due to the muscle being relaxed. This may be in a position that blocks the air way. Or more probable, blocks fluids leaving the mouth. (Such as the recovery position is designed to prevent, choking on vomit.)

    When you sleep, you can generally be woken up if you stop breathing. You still retain a certain degree of conciousness. Also, when you are falling asleep you put yourself in a relaxed position readily, with the tongue being relaxed in a "safe" position. You will not fall asleep if your tongue has blocked the airway, and there is generally going to be little movement.


    I think I've explained that incredibly poorly... but it makes sense in my head :sigh:
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    (Original post by TheNack)
    That is a myth, your tongue is fixed in place so it can't be swallowed in any way.
    The notion of 'swallowing your tongue' is certainly a myth, but it's easy enough for it to rest in a position that prevents inhalation. To the best of my knowledge, the recovery position is designed to prevent both aspiration of fluids and tongue issues.

    EDIT: BBC Health, of all things, appears to confirm this. To what extent their word should be taken as gospel is up for debate. :p:
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    I assume when you're sleeping, you have some muscle control. And if it did fall back and block your airway, your body would detect the falling oxygen and rising carbon dioxide levels and make you wake up and move.

    You tilt the head back when checking for breathing in case this has happened, and if they are breathing (or you have to leave them, e.g. to call for help) then you'd put them in the recovery position to prevent this happening. It also allows vomit/blood/fluid to drain out from the mouth.

    One of the First Aiders at my old St John Ambulance division said that tilting the head back to check for breathing can be enough to start them breathing again - it's been known for people to suddenly gasp and start breathing when their airway is cleared.
 
 
 
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