Category Archives: Breathing Issues

Flail Chest – How Does It Occur And What Are The First Aid Treatments For It?

How Does Flail Chest Happen?

Whenever the chest receives a severe trauma – such as from a heavy blow or serious accidents causing multiple rib fractures – it is likely to result in a condition known as flail chest. This is a life-threatening event that results from extreme rib cage fractures, detaching it from the rest of the chest cavity. Whenever the broken rib cages move independently from the rest of the chest wall, it results in paradoxical respiration or paradoxical breathing. When this happens, there is an associated pain or increased workload that occurs during breathing.  Flail chest is considered as a life threatening condition, because if left untreated, it could result to death. Time and immediate treatment is therefore crucial for flail chest victims. Individuals who have recognized and learned the value of first aid courses will know how to manage flail chest victims.

Flail Chest – What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Severe pain exhibited by a victim of flail chest.
Severe pain exhibited by a victim of flail chest.

The usual symptoms seen include chest pain, labored and difficult breathing. They will be gasping for air, because of the difficulties associated. Further assessment will show bluish discoloration of the mouth, skin in the affected chest area and nail bed. The flailed rib cages already moves in an opposite direction during the breathing process; for instance, when the diaphragm contracts during exhalation, the flailed part moves outward, and when the diaphragm expands during inspiration, the flailed part moves inward. The victim may also lose consciousness, resulting to shock in the process.

What Are The First Aid Techniques For Flail Chest?

First of all, we need to provide safety for the victim of the flail chest. If he/she is outdoors in a life-threatening environment, we need to move him/her in a safer place. Let us assume that you have already assessed the patient for signs and symptoms of flail chest; the next thing to do is to call the emergency response. Third, we need to stabilize the affected part. To do this, we need to place a pillow on the flailed segment of the chest to put pressure on it and prevent it from moving in an opposite direction whenever the victim breathes. Always remember that if the flail segment does not move oppositely, it could less likely cause damages to nearby organs, most especially the lungs and the heart.

Additional Tips

If there is no accessible emergency number in the area, rush the victim to the emergency department as soon as possible. If no pillow is available, anything that helps stabilize the flail segment could be used – thick clothing, blanket or jacket that is rolled up over the site of the injury.

Related Video on Flail Chest:

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“Flail Chest.”  Wikipedia. Retrieved online on June 18, 2013 from “The Management of Flail Chest.” (2007).Thoracic Surgical Clinic. Authors Pettiford, B., Luketich, J. & Landreneau, R.

Breathing Emergencies

A breathing emergency is any respiratory problem that generally

breathing emergencies
breathing emergencies

occurs when air cannot travel freely and easily into the lungs. Breathing emergencies can be life-threatening. The body needs a continual oxygen supply for cellular respiration to occur in the cells of the body. Needless to say, oxygen is essential for survival. When there is not enough oxygen in the body, cells will die. The process of respiration involves inspiration (inhalation) of oxygen and expiration (exhalation) of carbon dioxide.

When breathing stops, the damage to the cells will depend on the amount of time without oxygen.

Minutes Effects
0 minutes Breathing stops. Heart will soon begin to cease beating.
4 – 6 minutes Possible brain damage
6 – 10 minutes Likely brain damage
Over 10 minutes Certain irreversible brain damage; and most likely death


Types of Breathing Emergencies

There are two main types of breathing emergencies:

  • Respiratory distress: breathing is difficult
  • Respiratory arrest: breathing has stopped

Causes of Breathing Emergencies

There are many possible causes of breathing emergencies. Any one of these breathing emergencies can immediately lead to cessation of breathing. The common causes of breathing emergencies include:

  • Respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia
  • Respiratory conditions, such as asthma
  • Choking(obstructed airway)
  • Electrocution
  • Shock
  • Drowning
  • Heart attack or heart disease
  • Chest or lung injury, such as sucking chest wound
  • Allergic reactions
  • Hyperventilation
  • Use of illicit drugs, and sometimes prescription drugs

Signs and Symptoms of Breathing Emergencies

It may not always be easy to detect breathing emergencies and although there are many causesof breathing emergencies, each with different signs and symptoms, it is necessary to recognize breathing emergencies at all times.

The following may indicate breathing emergencies:

  • Breathing is abnormally fast or slow, deep or shallow
  • Gasping for air
  • Making high-pitched noises, wheezing or gurgling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Flushed, pale or bluish skin
  • Dizziness or light headedness
  • Chest pain
  • Tingling sensation in the hands or legs

First Aid Management for Breathing Emergencies

For all breathing emergencies, call emergency medical services immediately to avoid further damage. The following steps are generally recommended in cases of breathing emergencies:

  • If the victim is unconscious, check for breathing and pulse. If both are not present, commence CPR. If there is no breathing, initiate rescue breaths.
  • For asthma patients, use inhaler and follow advise by doctor.
  • For choking victims, perform Heimlich manoeuvre.
  • Before helping victims of drowning and electrocution, ensure that it is safe to help these victims to avoid increasing number of casualties.
  • For anaphylaxis, assist the victim in taking epinephrine shots.

Respiratory problems that hinder air from traveling freely and easily are considered breathing emergencies. To learn more about how to manage different breathing emergencies, enrol in First Aid Training and CPR Courses available in the country.

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Breath Holding Spell: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

A breath holding spell refers to a child holding his breath due to anger, fear, frustration or fear. Children between the ages of 6 months to 2 years of age are frequently known to hold their breath. Often breath holding spells do not result in loss of consciousness – they are normal reactions to anger and frustrations.

A child having a breath holding spell may show changes in skin color, initially starting off with red, after which the lips may turn blue. This will result in the loss of consciousness. However, the child will begin breathing breath holding spellsnormally within one minute and will wake up and be alert instantly.

Treatment options for breathing holding spells may include medication to prevent them and a special pacemaker for the spells.

Disclaimer: the material posted on this page on breath holding spells is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage childcare and babysitting emergency’s sign up for workplace approved first aid and CPR programs.


A breath holding spell may be an emotional reaction to anger, frustration, fear or injury. Breath holding spells rarely result in the child’s loss n consciousness, however, the child will recover within a minute. Breath holding spells are normal in children aging from 6 months to 2 years.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of breath holding spell in children include:

  • The child may cry once or twice before the breath holding spell
  • The child holds his or her breath for as long as possible or until the lips turn blue or the child passes out
  • The child loses consciousness
  • The child’s limbs become too rigid or stiff
  • The child begins to breathe normally within a minute after which he or she will awaken and be fully alert again


For most children, treatment is not needed for breath holding spell. Many children simply outgrow breath-holding spell within 6 years of age. The best way to treat breath holding spells is to avoid them. Children often hold their breaths in response to fear or anger, therefore, parents should try to prevent such traumatic events from taking place. In order to minimize the impact of breath holding spell in children, parents and caretakers must ensure that they remain calm before and after the spell. It is important that all objects nearby are removed and the child is in a safe place in order to prevent injuries, in case the child collapses due to loss of consciousness.

Placing a cold cloth on your child’s forehead may shorten the period of the breath holding spell. Since mild or brief seizures are normal during a breath holding spell, it is important that you do not give your child any anti-seizure medication as your child is not suffering from epilepsy.

It is very rare in children to have breath-holding spells, due to an inherited disease. In such cases, immediate medical attention should be sought as soon as possible.

Home care treatment

Follow these home care treatment steps to reduce breathing-holding spells:

  • Measure the time taken for the breath holding spell
  • Apply a moist, cold washcloth on the child’s forehead
  • Lay the child on his back, flat on the ground to encourage blood flow to the brain
  • Remain calm before and after the breath holding spell
  • After the breathing holding spell, give your child a hug

When to seek medical attention

See you doctor if your child is having these problems along with breath holding spell:

  • Worsening breathing difficulty
  • Worsening wheezing
  • You child is holding his or her breath for more than 1 minute
  • Your child is having a seizure
  • Increased severity or frequency of breath holding spells

 Learn More

To learn more about managing children with breath holding spells enroll in workplace approved childcare and / or babysitting first aid and CPR courses with a credible provider.

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First Aid for Sore Throats

Sore throat is medically termed as pharyngitis which refers to a condition resulting from an inflamed pharynx, which is positioned behind the throat. Inflammation can also affect the tonsils, the back of the tongue and the soft palate—often caused by a viral infection.

Sore throats are also symptoms of bacterial infection affecting the respiratory tract such as strep throat or tonsillitis. Sore throats are contagious and are thus contracted with the contact of contaminated objects. People and children working or studying with close contact are more prone to contracting the condition. The infectious agents are often transmitted by coughing, sneezing, not washing your hands thoroughly—you will incur the condition of you come into close contact, touch or breathe the air near an affected person.

The infection is at its peak during the fall and winter seasons because people spend most of their time indoors.


Of course, the most obvious symptom of pharyngitis is a sore throat. However, it is crucial to realize that sore throat also occurs as a result of many other illnesses and conditions such as cold sores, flu, strep throat and sore throatmononucleosis. Other symptoms that may occur along with sore throat are:

  • Runny and stuffy nose—congestion
  • Persistent and dry coughing
  • Redness of the throat
  • Red eyes
  • Hoarse voice
  • Diarrhea—only in children
  • Occasionally, painful sores and reddishness around the mouth region

Sore throat that occurs due to a fungal infection (Thrush) will exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Breathing difficulties
  • White patches in the mouth

This infection is often contracted by young children and people with weak or suppressed immune systems.

When to seek medical attention

If any of the following symptoms arise due to sore throat, visit your doctor immediately:

  • A fever above 101 F
  • Breathing difficulties through the mouth
  • Difficulties while swallowing—preventing you from taking adequate nutrition and fluids
  • Loud breathing
  • Throat pain that lasts for more than 2 weeks
  • Excessive drooling


Bear in mind that viral infections will not respond to antibiotics, therefore, making it highly ineffective. Antibiotics will only work in the case of strep throat which is caused by a bacterial infection. Therefore, treatment depends mainly on alleviating the symptoms and making the victim feel more comfortable:

  • Drink lots of fluids. This will prevent dehydration and make you feel better. Therefore, drink plenty of warm fluids such as tea, soup and also have cool fluids such as soft ice cream and water—to relieve your throat pain.
  • Get plenty of rest. The more you rest, the more your body will be able to respond to the infection and act against it.
  • Gargle with warm salt water. This will reduce the pain.
  • Over the counter pain killers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen will alleviate throat pain. Do NOT give aspirin to children under 2 years of age.
  • Antihistamines also alleviate some symptoms of sore throat.
  • You can sue a humid vaporizer to reduce congestion while resting.
  • Taking vitamin C supplements can reduce the duration of the condition.

Additional Information

Rarely do sore throats result in the need of immediate first aid or CPR, however, with serious breathing emergencies such as asthma, anaphylaxis or chooking the skills learned in credible first aid and CPR training are applicable.

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