First Aid for Common Medical Emergencies
Syncope of or colloquially known as fainting is defined as the momentary loss of postural tone and consciousness which is better characterized by a brisk onset but short duration and often spontaneous recovery. Fainting can happen suddenly and without warning when blood flow to the brain is impeded or interrupted (cerebral hypoperfusion) due to an existing underlying medical condition, emotional response and physical injury sustained to the head. Other specific causes of fainting may also include extreme exhaustion/fatigue, low blood sugar, reaction to pain, sight of blood and gore, and existing problems with the heart.
The abovementioned definition of fainting is the more commonly seen condition in most cases (transient loss of consciousness). Without the element of the momentary loss of consciousness in a relatively short duration it shouldn’t be confused with coma which can be easily distinguished from fainting primarily because of the latter’s persistent loss of consciousness in a longer span of time. CPR training in this situation is very vital.
Common signs of fainting often include the following signs and symptoms:
- Tunnel vision/blurred vision
- Pale cool skin
- Sudden but brief loss of consciousness
To care for a victim who fainted do the following:
- Check responsiveness and breathing. Initiate Cardiopulmonary resuscitation in repetitive cycle as necessary.
- Loosen any restrictive clothing such as belts and other tight garments.
- If the victim sustained physical injuries prior to fainting, check and care for injuries.
- Most fainting episodes in younger persons (teenagers and young adults) are generally not serious with the victim able to recover quickly. However, seek medical care if the victim:
- Is frail and elderly.
- Faints for no apparent reason.
- Has repeated fainting episodes.
- Does not quickly recover and becomes difficult to arouse.
- Suddenly becomes unresponsive while sitting down or lying down.
- Has no pulse and absent spontaneous breathing.
A seizure occurs when there is an abnormal stimulation of the brain cells which can be pathologic or external in cause. A wide variety of factors and causes can lead to seizure episodes and the most common ones are normally:
- High fever
- Brain Injury/tumor/stroke
- Low blood sugar
- Electric shock
- Alcohol or other drugs that causes withdrawal/drug abuse
The signs of seizures will greatly vary depending on the type but normally will include the following:
- Jerky muscle movement
- Rigid body and arching of the back
- Sudden falling
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To care for a victim having generalized seizure episodes:
- Search for an epilepsy identity car or identity jewelry.
- Prevent injury by moving away any dangerous objects from the victim.
- Cushion the victim’s head
- Loosen restrictive clothing and garments.
- Be calmly reassuring
- Roll the victim to his side (recovery position) to clear the victim’s airway.
- Stay with the person until seizure episode ceases
- Call for emergency medical services for further management (for seizure of unknown cause).
With these examples, it is important for you to have first aid and CPR training.
Alton, T. et al (2012). First Aid, CPR and AED Standard 6th Ed. Jones & Bartlett Learning