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Breathing Cure

Breathing Difficulties - First Aid

Breathing difficulties can be described in several different ways. You may be short of breath, unable to take a deep breath, gasping for air, or feel like you are not getting enough air.


If you are having difficulty breathing, it is almost always a medical emergency (other than feeling slightly winded from normal activity like exercise or climbing a hill).

Causes of Breathing Difficulties

Difficulty breathing has many potential causes. Some of the most common are:

Symptoms for Difficulty Breathing

The following symptoms are often associated with difficulty breathing:

First Aid

DO NOT do the following:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 911 if you or someone else has labored breathing, especially if accompanied by:

Call your doctor right away if:


Breathing - slowed or stopped

Breathing that slows down or stops from any cause is called apnea.


Apnea can come and go and be temporary. This can occur with obstructive sleep apnea, for example.

Prolonged apnea means a person has stopped breathing. If the heart is still active, the condition is known as respiratory arrest. This is a life-threatening event that requires immediate medical attention and first aid.

Prolonged apnea accompanied by lack of any heart activity in a person who is not responsive is called cardiac (or cardiopulmonary) arrest. In infants and children, the most common cause of cardiac arrest is respiratory arrest. In adults, the opposite usually occurs: Cardiac arrest leads to respiratory arrest.

Causes of Apnea

Apnea can occur for many different reasons. The most common causes of apnea in infants and small children are generally quite different from the most common causes in adults.

Common causes of apnea in infants and young children include:

Common causes of apnea in adults include:

Other causes of apnea include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

See immediate medical attention or call your local emergency number (such as 911) if a person with any type of apnea:

If a person has stopped breathing, call for emergency help and perform CPR (if you know how). When in a public place, look for an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and follow the directions.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

CPR or other emergency measures will be done in an emergency room or by an ambulance EMT (emergency medical technician).

Once the patient is stable, the health care provider will do a physical exam, which includes listening to heart sounds and breath sounds.

Questions will be asked about the person's medical history and symptoms, including:Time pattern

Recent health history


Diagnostic tests that may be done include:

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