Breathing difficulties - first aid


Breathing difficulties can range from:

This article discusses first aid for someone who is having breathing problems.


Breathing difficulty is almost always a medical emergency (other than feeling slightly winded from normal activity, such as exercise).


There are many different causes for breathing problems. Common causes include:


A person with breathing difficulty may have:

First Aid

If someone is having breathing difficulty, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number, then:

Do Not


When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 911 or your local emergency number if you or someone else has difficulty breathing, especially if you notice:

Call your doctor right away if:


Some things you can do to help prevent breathing problems:

Review Date: 10/15/2014
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.