What You Should Immediately Eat When A Fish Bone Gets Stuck In Your Throat

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

There’s nothing worse than sitting down to a delicious dinner, only to discover halfway through that you have a fish bone stuck in your throat.

If it’s ever happened to you, you already know that it’s a really unpleasant sensation!

After all, when you’re expecting a pleasant meal, the last thing you want to experience is pain and discomfort.

Granted, we might make an exception for finding a diamond in a hardboiled egg like one woman did, but as a general rule, we prefer our eating experiences to be surprise-free.

However, those of us who are fond of fish have a cross to bear. Fish often come jam-packed with itty-bitty fish bones.

If you’re lucky, you manage to finish your meal without encountering any, but even the best chef might occasionally miss a few stray bony bits while preparing the meal.

Encountering a bone is unpleasant, but it’s even worse if you manage to get one lodged in your craw.

With that in mind, here’s our guide on what to do when there’s a fish bone stuck in your throat.

Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures

How Do Fish Bones Get Stuck?

fish bone stuck in throat
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

So when we talk about getting a fish bone stuck, what exactly do we mean?

Lots of fish are jam-packed with itty-bitty little bones that are incredibly hard to remove.

Certain freshwater fish, like trout and salmon, are especially difficult to debone completely. Some chefs may also serve fish whole, with the bones still in.

Needless to say, it can be a bit of a minefield for the diner.

If you swallow a bite wrong and don’t notice a stray piece of bone, you might end up with a fish bone stuck in your throat, which can be unpleasant and painful.

What Does A Fish Bone In Your Throat Feel Like?

fish bone stuck in throat
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

If you’ve never gotten a fish bone stuck in your throat, you know that it’s a little bit like the sensation of having your throat checked at the doctor. It’s scratchy and uncomfortably, but not necessarily painful.

Usually, a stuck fish bone isn’t immediately dangerous, but might make you feel a little bit panicky, as if you can’t breathe or swallow.

Your throat might swell up a bit around the bone, which can add to the tenderness. In some case, you might bleed a little, if you’ve been scratched.

How Do You Get A Fish Bone Out Of Your Throat?
#1: Cough

fish bone stuck in throat
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Your first instinct will be to cough, and you should follow it.

Coughing is your body’s first line of defense against all sorts of interlopers, from germs to soda that went down the wrong way.

Oftentimes, coughing hard for a few minutes will blow enough air against the bone to dislodge it.

If you’re lucky, you can just cough the bone right back up and let your throat recover.

If that doesn’t work, keep on scrolling.

#2: Swallow Olive Oil

fish bone stuck in throat
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

If you can’t cough the bone away, it’s time to start incorporating added materials that can help coax it free.

Olive oil is a signature solution, because it’s a great lubricant.

Oil won’t dissolve immediately in with your saliva and digestive juices the way water will, so it’s a better option for trying to wash the fish bone down.

The oil will make the bones slick and slippery, and will also help to soften it and weigh it down so that you can swallow the bone away.

#3: Gulp A Marshmallow

fish bone stuck in throat
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Lots of people swear by this method.

Grab a big jumbo-sized marshmallow and pop it in your mouth.

Chew it a tiny bit, just enough to make it melty and sticky, and small enough to swallow.

As soon as possible, gulp the marshmallow down, swallowing it whole.

The sticky goop of the confection should “grab” the bone from wherever it’s lodged and pull it straight down your gullet.

#4: Sip Vinegar

fish bone stuck in throat
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

You can try sipping a little bit of diluted vinegar to help move the bone along.

The jury is still out on this method, but lots of people say that mixing up a solution of vinegar and water gets rid of the fish bone by dissolving it.

Fish bones are usually fairly delicate and fragile, and vinegar is an acid, so the idea is that the vinegar would help hasten the process of the stomach acid to dissolve the bone in your throat.

The main drawback to this method is that it might take a little longer.

#5: Dunk Bread In Warm Water

fish bone stuck in throat
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

The bread method works a bit like the marshmallow method.

Tear off a piece of dry bread and slightly dunk it in warm water or milk.

Immediately ball up the bread and swallow it whole.

The hope is that the rough texture of the bread, and the stickiness from the milk or water, will help to snag the bone from wherever it’s lodged and carry it away.

#6: Go To The Doctor

fish bone stuck in throat
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

If you’ve tried all of these methods and nothing is working, go to a doctor to get the bone removed.

Usually, this can be done very quickly and painlessly, though in extreme cases, minor surgery may be required. In rare cases, injury from a fish bone may be life-threatening.

You should also go to the doctor immediately if there is excessive bleeding (more than a drop), intense pain, a puncture wound, or a blockage in the airway.

Anyone choking on a fish bone or unable to breathe must call 911 and get emergency medical attention.

Did we miss an awesome method for tackling fish bones?

Let us know below, and don’t forget to SHARE this guide with all your pescatarian friends!