First-Aid for Breathing Difficulty or Stoppage

About how to treat someone who is having breathing difficultly or has stopped breathing, tips on mouth to mouth resusciation.


Whenever a person of any age has stopped breathing (regardless of the reason), start artificial respiration immediately. Quick action is of utmost importance: One can survive a lack of oxygen for only 3 to 5 minutes. Get anyone who has severe difficulty in breathing to a hospital for oxygen immediately. If necessary, administer artificial respiration also.


How to administer mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-nose breathing (artificial respiration).

1. Lay the victim down on his back and quickly wipe out any foreign matter in the mouth with your finger.

2. If available, place pillow or rolled-up blanket under the victim's shoulders.

3. Tilt the victim's head back as far as it will go. Pull or push the jaw so that it juts out.

4. If the victim is an adult, cover his mouth tightly with your mouth, pinch his nostrils shut, and blow vigorously into his mouth. If the victim is a child, place your mouth over his mouth and nose, making a relatively leakproof seal, and blow gently.

5. Remove your mouth from the victim. This will permit you to inhale, and it will allow air to exhale from the victim's mouth. Listen for that exhalation.

6. Keep up a steady rhythm of inhaling and exhaling. For an adult, blow vigorously 12 to 15 times a minute; for a child, blow gently about 20 times a minute.

7. If, after the 1st few blows, air is not going into the victim's lungs, recheck the position of the head and jaw. If they are not properly placed, the tongue tends to block the air passageway. If they are placed properly and air still does not go through, then quickly check for foreign matter in the throat.

To remove foreign matter in a child, suspend him momentarily by the ankles (or doubled over at the waist with hands and head hanging downward) and slap sharply 2 or 3 times between the shoulder blades. Hopefully, this will dislodge the obstruction.

To remove foreign matter in an adult, quickly turn the victim on his side and slap him sharply several times between the shoulder blades. Then, once again, sweep your fingers through the victim's mouth to remove any foreign matter. Reposition the victim and resume artificial respiration.

8. If the patient vomits, quickly turn him on his side and wipe out his mouth. Then reposition him and begin again. (If desired, one may cover the victim's mouth or nose with handkerchief when applying artificial respiration.)

9. Continue your efforts until the patient revives or for at least 4 hours, as people have revived after appearing lifeless for that long.

10. When the victim revives, keep him quiet until he's breathing regularly. Cover him and treat for shock.

11. During the recovery period, the victim should be in the care of a doctor since complications may develop.

This technique applies even in drowning cases. Do not bother trying 1st to remove water from a drowning victim; begin artificial respiration immediately.

Most victims recover within 15 minutes after beginning artificial respiration, but it may take much longer as mentioned above. In some cases, the use of a resuscitator may be necessary in addition to artificial respiration; have someone else send for this assistance at the earliest possible moment.

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