Respiratory distress is a serious condition that requires immediate attention. If you’re having to work harder to breathe, this may indicate that your lungs aren’t getting enough oxygen and you’re in respiratory distress.
Be sure to see your healthcare provider to receive diagnosis and treatment if you notice the signs below. It also may help to take first aid or CPR classes in order to be prepared for such an emergency.
The signs of respiratory distress
You may be experiencing respiratory distress if you notice:
- An increase in the number of breaths you’re taking per minute.
- A grunting sound each time you exhale.
- Your nose flaring while breathing.
- A bluish or pale gray color around the mouth, the inside of the lips, or on the fingernails. This indicates that an individual is not getting as much oxygen as they require.
- Chest retractions: This is when the chest appears to sink in below the neck or under the breastbone with each breath.
- Wheezing: This is an indication that air passages have become smaller/tighter.
- Increased sweat on your head (without your skin being warm to touch). Cool and clammy skin can be a result of increased breathing rate.
- A change in body position (.ie. leaning forward while sitting in order to take deeper breaths). This may indicate that you’re about to collapse due to respiratory issues.
What to do if these symptoms occur
Johns Hopkins Medicine advises calling 911 immediately if you have any of these symptoms, or if you see someone else who does. Moreover, if an individual is in a healthcare facility or nursing home, be sure to immediately notify a healthcare professional of the situation.