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How To Count Respirations
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Respirations are when you breathe in and out. Your respiratory, or breathing, rate is the number of times you breathe in and out in 1 minute. Most people breathe in and out 12 to 20 times every minute.
Why respirations are counted:
People who are ill, such as those with lung or heart disease, may need to have their respirations counted. The respiratory rate can show how a person's body is doing. A change in the respiratory rate may be a warning sign that the person's condition is getting worse.
How to count respirations:
- Ask the person to sit upright.
- Try to count the other person's respirations without his knowing. If he knows, he may try to control his breathing. This can give a false respiratory rate.
- Use a watch with a second hand and count his breaths for 60 seconds. Use any of the following methods to count:
- Look at his chest rise and fall. One rise and one fall are counted as 1 breath.
- Listen to his breaths.
- Place your hand on the person's chest to feel the rise and fall.
Contact the person's healthcare provider if:
- The person has a breathing rate that is less than 12 or more than 25.
- The person makes noise when he breathes, such as grunts, wheezes, or gurgles.
- The person feels dizzy or more tired than usual.
- The person has cold, clammy, sweaty skin.
Return to the emergency department if:
- The person has to sit upright to breathe or lifts his shoulders when he breathes in.
- The person purses his lips when he breathes.
- The person has retractions (pulling in of the skin between the ribs and around the neck with each breath).
- The person cannot speak because he has trouble breathing.
- The person has blue nails or lips.
- The person stops breathing.
- The person has a seizure.
- The person has a hard time staying awake or thinking clearly.
- The person has a fast heartbeat or chest pain.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.