Learn the history of the oropharyngeal airway (OPA) and review how to size the OPA for the patient, as well as the correct way to insert this basic, and effective, airway adjunct.
Shortness of breath, or dyspnea, results from air hunger, a sensation that you’re not getting enough air. Here’s how to spot a patient with increased work of breathing, an important assessment for an EMS provider evaluating a patient with dyspnea.
By Dennis Edgerly, EMT-P | Paramedic Education Coordinator
As you enter the house your patient looks at you anxiously. He’s sitting upright, leaning forward. You note circumoral cyanosis and obvious respiratory distress as he attempts to speak. As you approach, you place him on oxygen with no relief. Upon auscultation of his chest, you note wheezing throughout his lung fields. You and your partner begin to administer a common bronchodilator albuterol when you remember — all that wheezes is not asthma.
By Andrew Merelman, BS, NRP, FP-C , Richard Levitan, MD, FACEP
You arrive on scene and find a 68-year-old man is lying on the couch with difficulty breathing. He’s obese and obtunded, with severe respiratory distress. His wife tells you he has a history of congestive heart failure. He appears pale and diaphoretic, with snoring, slow, shallow breaths and his initial oxygen saturation is 72%. What are the most important first steps in managing his airway and breathing?