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Things not to do in case of fainting: Indian health ministry’s warning against giving water or force feeding unconscious people

May 06,2024

New Delhi: Guidelines to combat heat waves have been released by the Government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on X. “Heatwaves are here, but we can be prepared!” it said. If you feel lightheaded or uneasy, prepare for a heatwave by following these first aid instructions: drink water to rehydrate, take off your clothes if you can, get to a cooler location right away, sponge with water, and do not force feed or provide water if you are unconscious.

One of the most important points in these rules is that people who pass out shouldn’t be force-fed or given water.

Why is it not a good idea to force feed someone who is unconscious?

An unconscious person lacks the swallowing reflex, which might result in aspiration. This implies that food or liquids may reach the lungs rather than the stomach, leading to respiratory discomfort and pneumonia.

Improper fluid administration can result in blood electrolyte abnormalities. Seizures, abnormal cardiac rhythms, and other issues may result from this. By emphasizing oral intake, one may postpone getting a proper medical evaluation to determine what is causing the coma.

Exceptions to the guidelines

The rules against giving water or forcibly feeding unconscious people are non-negotiable. This guideline’s fundamental focus on airway protection and safety makes it applicable in all medical situations. It is a fundamental principle that only conscious persons who are able to defend their airway and swallow deliberately should take food or water, regardless of the particular medical circumstances.

This broad application emphasizes how vital consciousness and airway integrity are in deciding when it is appropriate to give nourishment.

How to handle an unconscious person

In order to ensure the well-being of an unconscious person in need of medical assistance, laypersons should do certain actions. First and foremost, they need to put the unconscious person in a coma as soon as possible and place them in a lateral or recovery posture. This position lowers the risk of airway obstruction by making it easier to maintain an open airway and by assisting in the drainage of oral secretions.

Seek for emergency medical assistance right away. Raise the chin and slightly tilt the head to one side to maintain an unobstructed airway. Make sure the person who is unconscious is breathing at all times. If trained, start CPR if the person is not breathing.

In the recovery position, turn the unconscious person over on his or her side. If they throw up, this keeps their airway open and keeps them from choking.

Source: Healthworld

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