Sign up for an e-learning course Pediatric First Aid and GET THE CERTIFICATE!
The term child refers to children between the first year of life and the beginning of puberty. When a child reaches puberty, they are referred to as teenagers for whom algorithms used for adults can be used. In addition, it is necessary to distinguish between an infant and an older child, since there are several significant differences in the diagnosis and intervention carried out in both groups.
The purpose of this article is to discuss the child's physiology, which will explain the reasons for choosing specific first-aid procedures for children.
Who is the child?
The term child refers to children between the first year of life and the beginning of the puberty period. Since puberty, children are referred to as teenagers for whom algorithms used for adults can be used. In addition, it is necessary to distinguish between an infant and an older child, because there are several significant differences with respect to diagnosis and interventions performed in both groups. The infancy period is the conventional period from birth to the first year of life. The onset of puberty, which is the physiological end of childhood, is the most logical upper age limit below which pediatric guidelines apply. If rescuers believe the injured person is a child, they should use pediatric algorithms. In 1992, Safranek, Eisenberg and Larsen in their publication "Epidemiology of cardiac arrest in young adults" proved that if this opinion is wrong and the injured person turns out to be young adults, the risk associated with the decision will be small, because - as shown by studies on the etiology of arrest Circulatory - the pediatric cardiac arrest model applies until early puberty.
Is the young man is a child or a teenager?
Very often the question arises: how quickly and without doubt determine whether the young man we found on the street has already entered the period of puberty or not? It is not so difficult to assess. Puberty is the period during which secondary and tertiary sexual characteristics develop. Tertiary features primarily allow rapid evaluation. In girls, such features include: visible development of the mammary glands and wide hips, while in boys the most characteristic tertiary sexual characteristics are: development of muscularity with particular emphasis on the development of shoulder girdle muscularity and the appearance of the first signs of facial hair. If the abovementioned characteristics can be observed in the injured person, first aid procedures for adults should be used. However, if these features are not visible, pediatric first aid procedures should be implemented.
Anatomy of the throat and larynx in a child, that is why we clear the airways
Understanding the need for clearing the airways should be preceded by an analysis of the anatomical structure of the larynx and throat in a longitudinal section through the neck and part of the human head. The massive structure of language is immediately striking. The part of the tongue that we see every day is just a fragment of the whole striated muscle, which is the tongue. Striated, in short depending on our will. In the event of loss of consciousness and body positioning on the back, the tongue gravitatively falls on the back wall of the throat tightly adhering to it, which closes the lumen of the respiratory tract, through which physiological air should enter the larynx, and then to the trachea, bronchi and lungs. There is a high risk of blocking the airways of the unconscious for both adults and children. When lying down, however, the head of young children will tend to cause neck bending. This is because of its large size, relative to the rest of the body. Such deep neck flexion carries an increased risk of airway obstruction. That is why for small children it is recommended to put something soft (e.g. a towel) under the shoulders. This raises the neck and reduces its curvature caused by the aforementioned head sizes. Another risk associated with the anatomical structure of a small child is his tongue. The language in children is relatively larger in terms of throat volume than in adults. That is why such a massive tongue is even more effective in blocking the airways than a falling tongue in an adult. The vocal cords in a small child are slightly more inclined towards the axis of the body than is the case with the vocal cords in an adult whose vocal cords are arranged horizontally.
All these differences in the structure of the child's respiratory system explain why it is so important to properly open the airways when providing first aid to an unconscious child.