Breathing Problems

A breathing emergency is any respiratory problem that can threaten a person’s life. It can range from not being able to take a breath to not being able to breathe at all. Someone may develop mild or severe blockage of the air passages.

There are many different causes that can lead to a breathing emergency.  Some of these include:

Allergic reactions, asthma, chest injury or infection, choking, fear/pain/or anxiety, fumes inhalation, heart attack, heart disease or heart failure, stroke, infection (i.e: pneumonia), collapse lung or punctured lungs, injury to the head/neck/chest, smoking.

Signs of Breathing Problems:

  • Breathing very fast or very slowing.
  • Having trouble with every breath.  Shortness of breath.
  • Noisy breathing – You hear a sound or whistle as the air enters or leaves the lungs.
  • Can only make sounds or speak no more than a few words at a time in between breaths although the person is trying to say more.
  • Confused or aggressive behavior.
  • Pale or blue face, lips, and fingers.

Actions for Helping Someone with Breathing Problems:

  • Make sure scene is safe.
  • Ask the person if he/she needs help. Asks if they have medicine – assist as needed.

Phone 911 if:

  • The person has no medicine.
  • The person does not get better after using their medicine.
  • The person’s breathing gets worse.
  • The person has trouble speaking.
  • The person becomes unresponsive.
  • Stay with the person until someone with more advanced training arrives and takes over.