Breathing difficulties can range from being short of breath, unable to take a deep breath, gasping for air, or feeling like you are not getting enough air.
This article discusses first aid for someone who is having breathing problems.
See also: Choking
Breathing difficulty is almost always a medical emergency (other than feeling slightly winded from normal activity such as exercise).
There are many different causes for breathing problems. Common causes include:
A person with breathing difficulty may have:
If someone is having breathing difficulty, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number, then:
Call 911 or your local emergency number if you or someone else has difficulty breathing, especially if you notice:
Call your doctor right away if:
Difficulty breathing - first aid; Dyspnea - first aid; Shortness of breath - first aid
Manno M. Pediatric respiratory emergencies: upper airway obstruction and infections. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 166.
Thomas SH, Brown DFM. Foreign bodies. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 57.
Wippold FJ II. Diagnostic imaging of the larynx. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 106.
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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