Respiratory distress

When people have trouble or difficulty in breathing and show signs that they are having to work harder to get enough oxygen (O2).


Signs of difficulty in breathing include:

  • a change in breathing rate with an increase in the number of breaths per minute.
  • a colour change to blue seen around the mouth, on the inside of the lips, or on the fingernails.
  • a grunting sound that can be heard when breathing out. This is the body’s way of trying to keep air in the lungs so they will stay open.
  • nose flaring when the openings of the nose spreading wide while breathing
  • an increase in sweating on the head, but the skin does not feel warm. More often, the skin may feel cool or clammy. This may happen when the breathing rate is very fast.
  • wheezing which is a tight, whistling, or musical sound heard with each breath and
  • spontaneously leaning forward while sitting to help take deeper breaths. This is called the Tripod position and is a warning sign that a person is about to collapse.




COVID-19Breathing rateRespiratory tractAcute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)Tripod positionRespiratory disease