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In first aid one of the things we look out for is breathing and respiration. Indications of normal breathing include:

  • The chest being able to rise and fall on both sides
  • The patient not displaying any sign of distress
  • Quiet regular, steady breaths.

When someone is having difficulty breathing, the will become distressed, they will be aware of having to think about breathing, which is something that we don't normally do.

Their respiratory effort and rate will increase.  If a patient is Asthmatic you may hear wheezing or they may tell you that they feel very wheezy or very tight.  They may be having difficulty breathing but their chest will move equally on both sides.

When assisting a patient who has Asthma, let them sit in a position where they feel comfortable, they will often want to sit down and hunch their shoulders forward, help them but let them decide the position that is best for them.

Other conditions that are very serious include Pneumothorax, in this situation, one side of the lung is not working properly.  They will be incredibly distressed, they will say they cannot breath and will ask for help.  If a Pneumothorax occurs you will only see one side of the chest move, the side that doesn't is the one that is affected.