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One of the things we look out for within first aid is that someone's breathing or their respiration rate. But just the respiration rate is just one component of it. There are a lot more other things we need to look for when monitoring someone's breathing.
When we're looking at a patient we are looking for normal breathing, so what sort of indications would there be of normal breathing?
Normal breathing, the chest is able to rise and fall equally on both sides. The patient doesn't display any signs of any distress at all. You can hear good air entry coming in and going out. We wouldn't hear that normally. You don't hear people breathing, normally, so if you're able to hear a breath going in and going out, normally something is wrong. If they're normal it can be quite quiet, but they're not showing any signs of distress.
And then when things start going wrong, what sorts of different types of breathing are there then?
Generally, your patient will become... They will become distressed. They may look distressed or they may feel uncomfortable because they're now having to think about breathing, whereas normally we don't. For somebody who's asthmatic who may be wheezy and you could hear the wheeze whilst they're breathing, or they will tell you that they feel very wheezy or they feel very tight. Their respiratory effort will increase, and the speed that they breathe will also increase. You should still be able to see the chest rise and fall equally on both sides.
And then what other conditions can then go further and more serious?
If you think possibly of a pneumothorax, where for some reason that one side of the chest and the lung is not working properly, the patient will be incredibly stressed. They will tell you that they can't breathe. They'll tell you... They request for help, constantly request for help and will want to sit up. You will only see one side of the chest move, so whichever side is not moving, that's the affected side. But the patient will demand to be sitting upright, possibly sitting forward and hunched over, because they can't breathe.