Shortness of breath: How to provide first aid care

17 June 2016
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17 June 2016, Comments: 0

Shortness of breath has various causes and the treatment is specific for the exact cause. In most circumstances, the only way to deal with shortness of breath is to call for emergency assistance or bring the individual to a doctor or emergency department for evaluation. Aside from determining the cause, the healthcare providers can administer supplemental oxygen to allow easier breathing.

Measures to manage shortness of breath

There are first aid measures to treat shortness of breath until the emergency team arrives or you are able to bring the individual to a healthcare facility.

Allow the individual to rest

The more energy is used, the more oxygen is needed and the individual ends up short of breath. When exercising strenuously, one ends up short of breath. This is why it is vital to take a break.

Comfortable position

Shortness of breath

When exercising strenuously, one ends up short of breath. This is why it is vital to take a break.

Trainers and coaches usually instruct players to hold their arms above the heads to maximize chest expansion. The tripod position of sitting on the edge of a chair or bed and lean forward, propped up with hands or elbows on knees. This is the ideal position for individuals suffering from shortness of breath. Remember that each individual is different so allow the individual to decide what position feels the most comfortable.

Call for emergency assistance

If resting in a comfortable position is not effective after 2-3 minutes, it is time to call for emergency assistance. Shortness of breath has various causes and some might be serious. In worst cases, shortness of breath can be due to a heart attack, abrupt lung issue or life-threatening poisoning.

Calling for medical care can mean the difference between life or death. If an individual is severely short of breath, do not hesitate to call for emergency assistance right away.


This is only utilized for individuals who have chronic lung issues. If the individual has oxygen available, it should be given. During episodes of shortness of breath, the individual must use his/her oxygen as directed by the doctor.

The individual might have been instructed by his/her doctor that too much oxygen for an extended period can cause issues. You have to assure the individual that an abrupt increase in episodes of shortness of breath are instances in which oxygen is needed the most.

Dealing with the cause

There are various causes for shortness of breath and most of them can be managed. Among those who have asthma, they often have various tools and medications available to deal with the sudden episode of shortness of breath. Those who have lung infections must set an appointment with a doctor for treatment while an individual suspected with a heart attack requires emergency assistance.

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