5 Common First-Aid Mistakes to Avoid
Whether you’re working hard or playing hard, you, your friends and family might pick up a few scrapes and sprains. When it’s time to treat those injuries, it can be tough to sort through facts, myths and conflicting advice. Here are some tips to help you avoid some common mistakes when administering first aid.
Know when to apply ice
Ice packs minimize swelling, so they work best when applied to sprains, bruises and pulled muscles. However, applying ice directly to your skin can hurt you, warns S. Robert Seitz of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. Instead, Seitz recommends that you place a thin barrier, such as a towel, between the ice and your skin. Ice the affected area for 20 minutes. Afterward, give your body an additional 20 minutes without ice. Repeat this process for several rounds.
Use heat sparingly
Although heat can feel good, warmth can make some conditions worse. According to William Gluckman, DO, the spokesman for the Urgent Care Association of America, putting heat on a sprain, bruise or pulled muscle can dilate your blood vessels and make the swelling worse. Instead, heat is best reserved for back spasms, arthritis pain and muscles that are sore from overuse.
Know your nosebleed facts
Nosebleeds are generally harmless, but inconvenient. When a nosebleed occurs, don’t tilt your head back. Seitz cautions that allowing the blood to drip down your throat may cause gagging and vomiting. It’s safer to pinch just below the bridge of your nose and lean forwards. If constant pressure is applied, the bleeding should stop in less than five minutes.
Be careful with caffeine and alcohol
If you suspect that you’re dehydrated or suffering from heat exhaustion, it’s a good idea to drink some fluids. Water and electrolyte-infused beverages provide the most hydration. Steer clear of caffeine, like coffee and soda, and anything containing alcohol. Seitz warns that drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine can both worsen dehydration. Instead, he recommends that you drink 4 ounces of water, along with 4 ounces of a sports drink, while resting someplace cool and comfortable. If you aren’t feeling better after 30 minutes, seek medical attention.
Seek care after trauma
If you have just experienced a traumatic event, like a car accident, it’s possible to think you’re uninjured when you actually are. According to Chris Cebollero, chief of EMS for Christian Hospital in St. Louis, the adrenaline in your bloodstream may numb the pain of the injuries you just sustained, even if you’re suffering from internal bleeding or broken bones. He cautions that you may not feel the full impact of your injuries until several hours have passed. Therefore, it’s wise to seek care as quickly as possible after a car accident, fall, head injury or similar trauma.
These tips can help you make informed decisions when helping yourself or someone else recover from an injury or fatigue. Keep in mind that the advice given here is for informational purposes and isn’t meant to treat or diagnose illnesses or injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured, seek the care and advice of a medical professional.
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