We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Respiratory Emergencies?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Respiratory emergencies are medical emergencies characterized by difficulty breathing or an inability to breathe at all. Such emergencies can become fatal if they are not addressed properly and promptly. If someone starts to show signs of respiratory distress, medical help should be obtained immediately. In the case of patients with chronic conditions which cause difficulty breathing, people should learn the difference between what is ordinary for the patient and what is a sign of a true emergency. For example, some people with asthma are naturally wheezy and it is not a cause for concern, while extremely labored breathing is a sign that the patient is in distress.

In a respiratory emergency, a patient may take frequent shallow breaths, irregular breaths, or very slow breaths. In some cases, the patient stops breathing at all. Respiratory emergencies are commonly accompanied with pale, cold, clammy skin, and the heart may stop beating or become irregular. The patient is also usually extremely agitated, which can add to the severity of the emergency because the patient will use more oxygen in a panic.

Heart failure, asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, chronic pulmonary obstruction disorder, croup, inflammation of the epiglottis, and the common cold are all conditions associated with respiratory emergencies. In patients with chronic conditions, medications may be used in an attempt to keep the airway open, and if the airway starts to close, prompt intervention may be needed. People can also experience acute reactions to allergens and drugs which lead to respiratory distress, and when objects become lodged in the throat, they can cause respiratory emergencies.

Some other causes of respiratory emergencies include medical problems such as pneumothorax, in which air fills the pleural space which surrounds the lungs, and pleural effusion, in which the pleural space becomes filled with fluid. Both of these conditions can happen as a result of trauma, and pleural effusion may occur as a consequence of long term chronic disease.

Patients usually notice when they experience respiratory emergencies. They may attempt to speak and often gesture to indicate that they are having trouble breathing. It can be very frightening to be unable to breathe, and people providing care should try to keep the patient as calm as possible by nothing that help is coming. Remaining in an agitated state can create complications for the patient. If a patient stops breathing altogether, rescue breathing should be initiated to reduce the risk of brain damage and increase the patient's chance of survival. Before administering rescue breaths, the airway should always be checked and swept for signs of objects which may be causing obstructions.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.