Breathing

Airway obstructions are the first thing to look for if you suspect that a person is not breathing. It is imperative that you open the airway quickly and safely. Before administering First aid*, you should always double-check for any missed signs of breathing:

Look at the chest to see if it rises and falls, Listen for the sound of air moving in and out of the nose or mouth, and Feel for air by placing your cheek against the nose and mouth area.

If you determine that a person’s airway is not open, there are a few simple steps that you can follow to help restore normal breathing.  When performing these steps, it is very important that you DO NOT tilt or rotate the person’s head, as doing so may cause further injury.

  • Start by taking a position at the top of the injured party’s head, and rest your elbows on the ground at either side of their head area.
  • Next: Carefully reach forward and gently place one hand on each side of the lower jaw, so that your hands are placed at the same angle of the jaw.
  • Stabilize the injured party’s head between your forearms.  Using your fingers, gently grasp the angle of the lower jaw and lift it upward. You may need to retract the lower lip with your thumb in order to keep the mouth open.
  • Check for breathing again.  If breathing has been restored, continue monitoring the injured person until help arrives.  If breathing has not been restored, it may be best to begin CPR or “mouth to mouth” resuscitation.  Instructions for performing CPR and “mouth to mouth” resuscitation can be dialed from the main menu.

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Asthma Attack

Asthma affects about 6% of the US population, and shortness of breath is a very common among Asthma sufferers. When a person reports a wheeze or chest tightness along with shortness of breath, it is not unreasonable to consider an asthma attack as the cause of their breathing problems.

First Aid for Asthma attacks can be quickly applied with the use of a bronchodilator commonly referred to as an “inhaler”.  A person exhibiting the signs of an asthma attack is probably being treated for the condition, and would likely have a prescription inhaler nearby.  Quickly check the person’s pockets, car, desk, purse, briefcase, or gym bag for an inhaler– and hand it to them right away.

If an inhaler cannot be readily found, then an oxygen mask can be used as an alternate means to help restore normal breathing.  Inhaling pure oxygen will block air irritants that are causing the Asthma attack, and allow the person’s airways to relax.

If no inhaler or oxygen mask can be found nearby, then quickly move the Asthma sufferer to a warm area.  Choose an area that is also free from airborne irritants such as smoke, perfumes, chemicals, mold and dust.  Then promptly call for medical assistance. Continue to monitor the person’s breathing and circulation until medical help arrives.

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