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How to Help Someone Having Trouble Breathing

Learn how to help someone who can't breathe in this first aid video from Howcast with Nurse Mary.


What do you do when someone has trouble breathing?

Call 911. Get on the phone with them and they can talk you through everything that's going on. They know what they're talking about, they do this everyday, and they can help you out.

You want to clear anything that's in the airway, any kind of obstruction, get that out of the way if you can.

Loosen any tight clothing, anything that's restrictive or kind of closing them in.

The next thing you want to do is, if someone is asthmatic or has any kind of medication at home, grab that if it's nearby and give that to the person to use. That can help immensely.

Keep checking for airway problems, breathing problems, pulse problems, while you're waiting for 911 to come, for the ambulance to come.

If there's any open wounds, especially in the neck or in the chest, you want to cover those up.

You want to keep calm so that they can see in you how to act and they'll reflect that calmness. The more stressed out you are, the harder it is going to be to control this troubled breathing.

Do not give them food. Do not give them water. Do not give anything that can obstruct the airway even more.

Sometimes when people have trouble breathing, they'll tell you that it feels like they're breathing through a straw, that they can't get enough air in. They may wheeze, they may have gurgles. They're going to panic. They're going to feel anxiety. They're going to get freaked out. It's a normal response.

Don't do anything like you see in movies. You don't need to put a bag over their head. You don't need them to lean over or maintain a weird position to try to get breathing.

You just need to calm them. You need to get them someplace where it's safe, where they can sit, or lie back, and just try to breathe slowly, slowly out, and slowly in, longer out than in.

It's going to feel longer to them each breath because anytime you have trouble breathing, your anxiety heightens and heightens and heightens and you want to try to quell that down, otherwise it just spirals.

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