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Emergency Medicine Part 5: Respiratory Distress
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Updated for 2018
Bronchospasm and hyperventilation are not uncommon emergencies in the dental office. Additionally foreign body airway obstruction has occurred with patients aspirating and choking small dental devices. This program reviews the prevention, recognition and management of some common causes of respiratory distress.

Learning Objectives:

  1. List four causes of respiratory distress in the dental environment
  2. Describe the dialogue history for asthma
  3. Describe management of acute bronchospasm
  4. Describe the pathophysiology of hyperventilation
  5. Describe management of hyperventilation
  6. List common etiologies of heart failure
  7. Describe the pathophysiology of heart failure
  8. List the signs & symptoms of left or right heart failure
  9. Describe acute pulmonary edema & its management
  10. Describe management of the obstructed airway in the adult & young child


A conscious patient complaining of difficulty breathing forms the basis of this section on respiratory distress. The discussion includes four common causes of respiratory distress: bronchospasm (asthma); hyperventilation; heart failure & acute pulmonary edema; and foreign body airway obstruction (FBAO). Prevention, recognition and management of each problem is discussed in depth.



  1. Introduction
  2. Asthma (Bronchospasm, Hyperactive airway disease)
  3. Hyperventilation
  4. Heart failure & acute pulmonary edema
  5. Foreign body airway obstruction (FBAO)


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