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Understanding OSA as an EMT

Dealing with Adults with OSA as an EMT

For adults, the most common cause of upper airway obstruction is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is important to understand the physiologic processes involved in this presentation. These patients are often obese. They usually have an element of pharyngeal collapse, which can also be associated with retrognathia and underlying conditions such as hypertension and diabetes mellitus.

These patients complain of frequently waking at night and feeling unrefreshed the next day despite having spent the full night in bed. They often have a high BMI and complain of hypersomnia during the day. Treatment for these patients typically includes weight loss, avoidance of sedatives, and use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) at night.

Dealing with Children with OSA as an EMT

The most common cause of upper airway obstruction is Aden tonsillar hypertrophy. These patients typically present with snoring, apnea, and mouth breathing. They often have difficulty feeding and may have growth stunts secondary to sleep deprivation. Treatment for these patients typically includes adenotonsillectomy. 

 

Cricoarytenoid joint dislocation is a less common cause of upper airway obstruction that can occur in both adults and children. This condition is typically caused by trauma (e.g., intubation) or surgery (e.g., thyroidectomy) and results in paralysis of the vocal cords. Patients with cricoarytenoid joint dislocation typically present with hoarseness, aspiration, and dyspnea. Treatment for this condition typically includes tracheostomy. 

 

The most common cause of upper airway obstruction can vary depending on the population. In adults, OSA is the most common cause while in children Aden tonsillar hypertrophy is the most common cause. Cricoarytenoid joint dislocation is a less common cause that can occur in both adults and children. Treatment for each of these conditions will vary depending on the underlying cause. 

EMTs Role As First Responders To Patients with OSA

EMT and first responders play a vital role in the management of patients with upper airway obstruction. It is important to be familiar with the most common causes and the appropriate treatments for each. By understanding the most common causes of upper airway obstruction, EMTs and first responders can more effectively manage these patients in the prehospital setting.

-EMT and first responder tips for managing patients with upper airway obstruction-

In the prehospital setting, EMTs and first responders play a vital role in the management of patients with upper airway obstruction. Here are some tips for managing these patients: 

  1. Be familiar with the most common causes of upper airway obstruction. This will help you to more effectively assess and manage these patients. 
  2. Understand the appropriate treatment for each cause of upper airway obstruction. This will help you to more effectively manage these patients in the prehospital setting. 
  3. Be sure to properly secure any airway devices that you use on these patients. This will help to ensure that the patient’s airway is not obstructed and that they are able to receive the oxygen that they need. 
  4.  Monitor these patients closely. This will help you to identify any changes in their condition and to more effectively manage their care. 
  5. Be prepared to rapidly transport these patients to the hospital. This will ensure that they receive the care that they need in a timely manner. 

By following these tips, EMTs and first responders can more effectively manage patients with upper airway obstruction in the prehospital setting. 

If you are an EMT or first responder, it is important to be aware of the different causes of upper airway obstruction and to know how to treat each one. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your supervisor or medical director. Stay safe out there! 

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