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Chapter 2: Medical Problems

Video 2a: Breathing Problems
Script: Welcome to the lesson on Breathing Problems. In this video, we will discuss the causes and signs of breathing problems as well as techniques for using an inhaler.

Breathing problems can arise from underlying lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema, or pneumonia. Other medical conditions such as a heart attack, stroke, seizure, or anxiety can cause breathing problems as well.

Signs of breathing problems include fast and shallow breathing, noisy breathing, inability to talk due to breathlessness, and unusual sounds. Individuals with asthma often make a musical sound when breathing, which can be heard as wheezing. High pitched sounds during inhalation may suggest a partial blockage of the upper airway. Individuals who have asthma or chronic lung disease are generally familiar with how to use their breathing medications, such as inhalers.

To help an individual use an inhaler, first, tap the inhaler canister.

Then, place the opening of the inhaler into the spacer if available.

Next, instruct them to fully exhale.

Place the spacer or inhaler into their mouth. Simultaneously, have them inhale slowly and deeply while pressing down on the top of the inhaler canister.

Instruct the individual to hold their breath for up to 10 seconds if possible. They should be prepared to repeat if respiratory problems persist.

Stay with the individual until the symptoms improve or until the emergency response arrives.

This concludes our lesson on Breathing Problems. Next, we will review Allergic Reactions.

Video 2b: Allergic Reactions
Script: Welcome to the lesson on Allergic Reactions. In this video, we will discuss the causes and signs of allergic reactions as well as for instructions for using epinephrine pens.

Allergic reactions can arise from insect stings, from an adverse reaction to foods and medications, or environmental triggers such as pollens, dust, or chemical fumes. Common food triggers include nuts, eggs, and fruits. Also, Bee, wasp, or hornet stings can produce rapid and potentially fatal reactions. Symptoms may be mild, such as itching and hives, or they may be severe, causing life-threatening swelling of the airway, lips, and tongue.
Antihistamines, such as Benadryl, are important in the treatment of severe allergic reactions. Also, epinephrine can be a life-saving medication and should be given at the first sign of severe allergic reaction.

Epinephrine pens are simple to use. First, form a fist around the pen and remove the safety release cap.

Then, place the orange end of the pen against the outer mid-thigh (with or without clothing).

Next, push down hard until a click is heard or felt, and hold the pen in place for 10 seconds.

Remove the pen and massage the injection site for 10 seconds.

Properly dispose of the used device in a sharps container.

Be sure to note the time of the injection and seek medical care. Epinephrine will wear off, and the individual receiving an injection should be evaluated at an appropriate medical facility.

This concludes our lesson on Allergic Reactions. Next, we will review Heart Diseases.

Video 2c: Heart Diseases
Script: Welcome to the lesson on Heart Diseases. In this video, we will discuss the causes and signs of heart attack and how to care for someone having a heart attack.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. Your prompt actions can mean the difference between life and death during a heart attack when blocked blood flow to the heart tissue results in muscle death.

Chest discomfort can be described as ache, pressure, squeezing, or crushing. Women and diabetics are less likely to have classic signs of a heart attack; they may simply experience nausea or unexplained fatigue. Shortness of breath could be the only sign of an impending heart attack for some individuals.

Aspirin is the most important medication for an individual having a heart attack. In addition, when caring for someone who may be having a heart attack, follow these steps:

Keep the individual and yourself calm.

Have them sit or lie down.

Activate the EMS by calling 911.

Give 2 to 4 baby aspirins or half to a full adult aspirin tablet. Make sure the aspirin in not enteric-coated.

Be prepared to administer CPR. Heart attacks can become fatal quickly.
Individuals with symptoms of a heart attack should be transported to the hospital via EMS. Do not let someone suspected of having a heart attack drive themselves to the hospital. Encourage them to wait until EMS arrives. If they refuse, then have someone else go with them to the hospital.

This concludes our lesson on Heart Diseases. Next, we will review Fainting.

Video 2d: Fainting
Script: Welcome to the lesson on Fainting. In this video, we will discuss the causes and signs of fainting and how to care for fainting individuals.

Fainting is a common reaction to a variety of conditions. Individuals may faint at the sight of blood or during periods of intense emotional stress. More serious conditions, such as an abnormal or erratic heart rhythm, can also cause fainting.

Also, severely dehydrated individuals may faint when standing up suddenly. The body’s reaction to the decreased blood flow to the brain causes the individual to pass out. By lying down, blood flow to the brain is improved.

For additional care for a fainting individual, do the following:

Ensure the safety of the scene.

Help the individual lie down.

Elevate their legs if possible.

If there is no rapid improvement, or if the individual becomes unresponsive, call 911.

An individual can also faint while seated in a chair. In this case, help them to the floor. Be aware of the potential injury if they have fallen. If they do not quickly regain consciousness, immediately call 911. Keep in mind that fainting can be caused by a wide range of problems, some of which can be life-threatening.

This concludes our lesson on Fainting. Next, we will review Low Blood Sugar in Individuals with Diabetes.

Video 2e: Low Blood Sugar in Individuals with Diabetes
Script: Welcome to the lesson on Low Blood Sugar in Individuals with Diabetes. In this video, we will discuss signs of low blood sugar and how to provide care for individuals with low blood sugar.

Diabetes affects an individual’s ability to regulate blood sugar. Fluctuations in blood sugar in either direction can produce symptoms such as agitation, confusion, loss of consciousness, excessive tiredness, weakness, and even seizure-like activity.

Individuals with diabetes can experience low blood sugar due to illness, stress, skipping meals, or taking too much insulin. To care for an individual who has low blood sugar, give them a sugar-containing beverage, such as fruit juice, milk, or a soft drink. Encourage them to sit or lie down. If their symptoms improve, encourage them to eat. Also, be sure to call 911.

Glucose gel and tablets are available and a good way to quickly increase blood sugar. Alternatives to gels and tablets include packets of sugar, honey, or jelly from restaurants which may be readily available. Consider keeping any of these in the first aid kit.

If an individual with diabetes is unable to speak or safely swallow, call 911.

This concludes our lesson on Low Blood Sugar in Individuals with Diabetes. Next, we will review a Stroke.

Video 2f: Stroke
Script: Welcome to the lesson on Stroke. In this video, we will discuss signs of stroke and steps to take to care for someone having a stroke.

A stroke, or sometimes called a brain attack, is a medical emergency caused by a blocked blood vessel or bleeding in the brain.

Individuals experiencing a stroke will have noticeable neurological deficits, such as slurred or unintelligible speech, facial droop, numbness, weakness on one side of the body, difficulty walking or maintaining balance, loss of vision, severe headache, and/or loss of consciousness.

Stroke is a neurological emergency, so time is critical. If you suspect someone having a stroke, immediately call 911. Help the individual sit or lie down. Retrieve an AED and a first aid kit. Record the time that the neurological symptoms were noted and the last time the individual was free of symptoms. Be prepared to perform CPR if needed.

This concludes our lesson on Stroke. Next, we will review Seizures.

Video 2g: Seizures
Script: Welcome to the lesson on Seizures. In this video, we will discuss signs and causes of seizures as well as what to do when taking care of an individual experiencing seizure and steps to take after the seizure is over.

Seizure—a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain—or seizure-like activity is caused by epilepsy, low blood sugar, head injury or trauma, heart disease, ingestion of a toxin, or heat-related illness.

Seizures result in abnormal body motion due to an irregular electrical discharge in the brain. Seizures can involve one or both sides of the body. Many seizures result in rhythmic jerking motions, but some seizures may result in a blank stare type of behaviour. An individual having a seizure may fall to the ground, bite their tongue, and lose control of their bowel and bladder. Seizures are often accompanied by a brief period of unresponsiveness.

When caring for an individual experiencing a seizure, help them to the ground if needed. Clear the area around them to prevent injury. Place a small pillow or towel under their head, and call 911.

After the seizure is over, feel for the individual’s pulse. Position them on their side to reduce the chance of choking on vomit. (It is possible for them to throw up after a seizure.) Stay with the individual until help arrives.

Do not attempt to restrain an individual having a seizure. Also, do not try to open their mouth or put anything in between their teeth. Someone experiencing an absence or staring-type seizure will have their eyes open but will not respond to you. These episodes are generally brief and not associated with jerking body motions or loss of consciousness. This type of event should be treated like any other seizure and be evaluated medically.

This concludes our lesson on Seizures. Next, we will review Shock.

Video 2h: Shock
Script: Welcome to the lesson on Shock. In this video, we will discuss causes, signs, and symptoms of shock and how to take care of an individual experiencing shock.

Shock can be caused by overwhelming infection, blood loss, severe allergic reaction, severe dehydration, or heart problems. When blood flow is significantly reduced, the body does not receive an adequate supply of oxygen, and shock occurs. Individuals experiencing shock may lose consciousness or fail to respond.

Signs and symptoms of shock include poor skin colour that is pale, grey, or bluish; dizziness and lightheadedness; nausea or vomiting; behaviour change such as agitation, confusion, or unresponsiveness; and clammy skin.

When you are to take care of someone suffering from a shock, you should first call 911. Then, help the individual lie down and elevate their legs. Cover them with blankets to keep them warm. Be prepared to perform CPR, and stay with the individual until help arrives.

This concludes our lesson on Shock. Next, we will review Controlling Bleeding.