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Breathing Problems – Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea

May 20th, 2014 | Posted by Aris Eff in Circulatory Emergency - (Comments Off on Breathing Problems – Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea)

There are certain things that can wake us up late at night and these include hunger, bad dreams, thirst and even bathroom runs. But when you wake up late at night with the urge of choking, shortness of breathing, suffocating and running out of breath, it could be a sign of paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea. Generally, breathing problem is associated with a much more serious and distressing disease – that is, heart problem.

How Does Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea Occur?

This condition is characterized by shortness of breath accompanied by wheezing and coughing. It usually happens several hours after a person falls into deep sleep in a reclining or semi-reclining position. Paroxysmal nocturnal dsypnea also occurs when a person experiences cold sweats and increased heart rate. It is also known as cardiac asthma, because it mimics some of the symptoms of asthma. However, the difference between the two is that asthma attacks are due to constricted airways resulting from inflammation, while paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea happens when the air sacs of the lungs are filled with fluid (a condition also known as pulmonary edema). Commonly, a person who experiences paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea attacks would wake up at night gasping for breath due to feelings of suffocation. Relief from symptoms is felt a few minutes after the attack. Although an episode of paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea is not fatal, it is life-threatening because it indicates a likelihood of heart problem.

first aid for asthma attack

Individuals with asthma commonly use asthma inhalers.

Associated Heart Illnesses

Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea is basically one of the many symptoms of left-side heart failure. When a person suffers from left-side heart failure, he/she commonly accumulates more fluid in the lower extremities, because of the inability of the heart to pump blood properly. At night when the person is lying down, the fluid accumulates in the lungs. When air sacs are filled with fluid, the oxygen level falls down, resulting in over-activity of the heart. Because the left side of the heart is unable to match the working capacity of the right side, it results in a pulmonary distress, causing paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea.

Managing the problem

It is best to lie on bed with an elevated head. Usually a head that is elevated higher than the heart level can help relieve symptoms of shortness of breath. Low sodium, low salt diet also helps avoid fluid retention in the body. When there is low fluid retention, the likelihood of accumulating more fluid in the lungs is also decreased. Still, it is important to see a doctor to determine the underlying cause of your paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea, as well as to provide the necessary medications and supplementary oxygen needed.

Learn more about circulatory problems

If you want to learn more on how to manage and recognize circulatory problems like paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea, you can enroll in a CPR and/or first aid course with a credible emergency/ first aid provider near your area. Check out our locations page for more information.

Related Video On Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea

Sources:

Dyspnea, Orthopnea, and Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea. (2013). NCBI. Retrieved online on May 20, 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK213/ Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea. (2012). Netdoctor. Retrieved online on May 20, 2013 from http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/ate/seniorshealth/201395.html

Heart Issues – Understanding Angina Pectoris

May 19th, 2014 | Posted by Aris Eff in Circulatory Emergency - (Comments Off on Heart Issues – Understanding Angina Pectoris)

How Angina Pectoris Occurs?

Angina Pectoris, or simply known as Angina, is a heart condition characterized by the cholesterol plaque build-up on the innermost lining of the coronary arteries. These arteries supply blood and oxygen to the heart. Cholesterol plaque build-ups are thick and hard substances caused by too much cholesterol deposited in the arterial wall. In the long run, the plaque build-ups become too thick, resulting in the hardening and narrowing of the artery. When there is too much plaque build-up in the arterial wall it results in inadequate blood supply going to and from the heart.

When a person performs strenuous activities – especially during excitement or exercise – the heart pumps more blood to produce more oxygen. But since the artery is narrowed down, it cannot function properly to meet the increasing blood supply demand. This results to lack of blood supply in the heart, and the first thing that the person will feel is the sudden onset of chest pain among any other symptoms.

Angina Pectoris

Angina Pectoris

What Other Signs And Symptoms Occur With Angina?

Aside from pain, which usually occur at the center of the heart, other symptoms of angina include:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Weakness
  • Numbness of the left neck, left arms, or left shoulder
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tingling sensation in the upper extremities

Important Considerations

Not all chest pains are considered as angina. There are other causes of chest pain including upper respiratory infection, asthma, sore chest muscles, and acid reflux. The best way, therefore, to determine that a chest pain is angina if it results from too much physical exertion, extreme temperatures, strong emotions, stress and other activities that require too much work demand from the heart.

Angina is not a heart attack. But consequent episodes of angina – even in moderate intervals – mean that a person is at an increased risk of suffering from heart attack. This is therefore a good warning sign that you need to seek medical attention in order to prevent the possibility of heart attack.

When the chest pain does not go away after a couple of minutes, it is important to call emergency assistance, because it may indicate a possible heart attack and not angina anymore. Always remember that angina happens and goes away quickly; prolonged chest pains are likely to be from a heart attack.

What To Do When A Patient Suffers From Angina Pectoris?

  • As part of emergency first aid, it is necessary to assist patient to relax and avoid unnecessary movements so that the heart could rest and the pain could go away.
  • Reduce any stress that could further trigger chest pain.
  • Give nitro-glycerin medications or chewable aspirins as prescribed.
  • Finally, and most importantly, seek medical attention so that appropriate intervention could be ruled out. You may need to visit a hospital emergency or cardiologist to get proper medical evaluation.

Where To Learn More?

To learn more about recognizing and managing circulatory emergencies enrol in a first aid and / or CPR course with a credible provider near you. Visit our locations page to find a provider in your area.

Related Video On Angina Pectoris

Sources:

Acute Heart Diseases. (2013). Auxiliary Medical Services. Retrieved online on May 19, 2013 from http://www.ams.gov.hk/eng/firstaid10.htm

Chest Pain Treatment. (2013). Web MD. Retrieved online on May 19, 2013 from http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/angina-pectoris-treatment

Emergency 101: Important Things To Do When Your Nose Bleeds

May 18th, 2014 | Posted by Aris Eff in Basic First Aid Skills - (Comments Off on Emergency 101: Important Things To Do When Your Nose Bleeds)

Some Facts About Nosebleeds

People have different reactions to nosebleeds – it can be frightening, scary or dramatic. But luckily, nosebleeds are not severe, though it can happen to anyone at anytime. Nosebleeds normally happen when the nose is irritated or because of colds. Also, the air that we breathe can also contribute to the incidence of nosebleeds. For instance, during summer and winter months the air becomes very dry (resulting from the coldness or dryness of the weather), which makes the air moving in and out of the nose dry, too. This could irritate the nostrils, which contain thousand of small blood vessels. Once irritated, the membrane linings inside the nose can easily get cut and cracked. So, once a person picks, rubs or blows his/her nose, it can irritate the membrane linings causing nosebleeds. In this case, stopping the bleeding of the nose is the top priority of first aids.

What Are The Types Of Nosebleeds?

There are two types of nosebleeds – anterior and posterior nosebleeds.

  • Anterior nosebleeds are the most common types of nosebleeds we experience, where the bleeding comes from the frontal blood vessels of the nose. They are easier to manage and control.
  • Posterior nosebleeds, however, are more complicated and may be a result of a pre-existing medical condition, so it is needed to be checked up by a physician. It is more commonly seen in older patients.

Important First Aid Tips For A Bleeding Nose

  • Sit straight with your body bending forward, because this helps drain out the blood on your nose. Also, keeping the bleeding part elevated from the heart is the best way to stop the bleeding.
Sitting and bending forward is the right position to drain out the blood from the nose.

Sitting and bending forward is the right position to drain out the blood from the nose.

  • Softly pinching the end portion of the nose can also help the bleeding stop.
  • Placing ice pack on the nose bridge is also a helpful remedy for nose bleeds.
  • Do not blow your nose, because it can further irritate the nostrils and aggravate the bleeding
  • Do not swallow the blood, because this can make you choke, cough or even vomit.
  • Never tilt your head back, because it only makes the blood run back into the throat.
  • Once the nosebleed stops, remain calm and avoid unnecessary movement. When you get nervous, your blood pumps faster and it can possible trigger another nosebleed. Too much movement and activities can also strain the affected nose, which might cause another episode of nosebleed.
  • If the bleeding does not stop after you have conducted first aid interventions, it is important to call a doctor to have your condition checked. This way, they can determine if the nose bleed is associated to a pre-existing medical condition.
  • Finally, if your nosebleeds occur too frequently, you should see a doctor to further evaluate your condition.

Related Video on Nosebleeds

Sources:

Nosebleed (Epitaxis, Nose Bleed, Bloody Nose) (2014). MedicineNet.com. Retrieved online on March 18, 2014 from http://www.medicinenet.com/nosebleed/article.htm

Nosebleeds. (2012). Web MD. Retrieved online on March 18, 2014 from http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/nosebleeds-causes-and-treatments

First Aid for Choking

May 4th, 2014 | Posted by Lana Badon in Basic First Aid Skills - (Comments Off on First Aid for Choking)


Choking is a life threatening injury that can happen to a child or a friend of yours. No one can predict accidents. Hence, it is a must to know the basic first aid training. Taking up short courses for first aid training gives you the knowledge on how to save lives, proper handling of different first aid materials, and to avoid more accidents to happen.

Choking is one of the most common accidents that may occur in children and adults. Choking happen when an object accidentally blocked partially or completely the throat of a person. Food is the leading cause of choking for children and adults. Children below 1 year old usually insert small object into their mouth – that is there way of exploring things around them and that causes choking or death. Blocked air path decreases oxygen supply to the brain, and brain can only survive without oxygen supply for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Lack of oxygen to the brain may likely develop serious and possibly irreversible brain damage.

Mild choking in adults and children over one year old – This occurs when the air path is partly blocked. Affected persons usually can’t be able to speak, breathe or cough. An adult or a child can remove the blockage by themselves.

Steps to help an adult and a child over one year old with mild choking:

  • Reassure them.
  • Advise the person to keep coughing to be able to remove the foreign object.
  • Assist the person to remove the blockage using two fingers and thumb to grasp the object.

Signs of Severe Choking:

  • Clasped hand on throat – universal sign of choking
  • Inability to speak
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Unable to cough forcefully
  • Loss of consciousness if blockage is not cleared.

First-Aid Treatment for Severe Choking:   

Heimlich Maneuver

Heimlich Maneuver

 

In helping an adult or a child over one year old who is severely choking, an abdominal thrust should be performed. It is widely known as Heimlich Maneuver. Here are the steps to be taken:

  1. Stand or position yourself behind the person and wrap your arms around the waist. The rescuer’s arms should be just above the belt line.
  2. Make a fist with one hand and grasp the fist with your other hand. Make sure that you place your fist, thumb side in, against the patient’s abdomen between the waist and the rib cage.
  3. Press your fist abruptly into the patient’s abdomen with a quick inward-upward thrust to increase airway pressure to remove the obstructing object.
  4. Perform this maneuver 5 times to be able to quickly remove the obstruction.
  5. Repeat the procedure until the object comes out of the patient’s mouth.