Breathing difficulties - first aid

Difficulty breathing - first aid; Dyspnea - first aid; Shortness of breath - first aid

Most people take breathing for granted. People with certain illnesses may have breathing problems that they deal with on a regular basis.

This article discusses first aid for someone who is having unexpected breathing problems.

Breathing difficulties can range from:

  • Being short of breath
  • Being unable to take a deep breath and gasping for air
  • Feeling like you are not getting enough air
Collapsed lung, pneumothorax

A collapsed lung, or pneumothorax, occurs when all or part of a lung collapses or caves inward. This occurs when air gets in the area between the lung and chest wall. When this happens the lung cannot fill up with air, breathing becomes hard, and the body gets less oxygen. A collapsed lung can occur spontaneously in a healthy person or in someone who has lungs compromised by trauma, asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema.

Breathing

The two lungs are the primary organs of the respiratory system. They sit to the left and right of the heart, within a space called the thoracic cavity. The cavity is protected by the rib cage. A sheet of muscle called the diaphragm serves Other parts of the respiratory system, such as the trachea, or windpipe, and bronchi, conduct air to the lungs. While the pleural membranes, and the pleural fluid, allow the lungs to move smoothly within the cavity. The process of breathing, or respiration, is divided into two distinct phases. The first phase is called inspiration, or inhaling. When the lungs inhale, the diaphragm contracts and pulls downward. At the same time, the muscles between the ribs contract and pull upward. This increases the size of the thoracic cavity and decreases the pressure inside. As a result, air rushes in and fills the lungs. The second phase is called expiration, or exhaling. When the lungs exhale, the diaphragm relaxes, and the volume of the thoracic cavity decreases, while the pressure within it increases. As a result, the lungs contract and air is forced out.

Breathing

Breathing consists of two phases. The first phase is the inspiration phase. Inspiration allows air to flow into the lungs. The second phase is expiration. Expiration involves gases leaving the lungs. During inspiration, the diaphragm and intercostal muscles contract allowing air to enter the lungs. During expiration, the inspiration muscles relax forcing gases to flow out of the lungs.

Considerations

Causes

Symptoms

First Aid

Do Not

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Prevention