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Can An Asthma Attack Kill You

How Can I Deal With Stress During The Covid

Asthma CAN Kill – Make an Asthma Action Plan

Even though the number of COVID-19 cases have gone down, nearly everyone is still experiencing stress because of the pandemic. Some also are concerned as more activities return and businesses increase capacity and relax mask mandates. Stress can affect your well-being and quality of life. It can be an asthma trigger. Itâs important that you continue to take care of yourself during this time.

Find some self-care practices that work for you. Some examples are:

  • Try a hobby
  • Take breaks from the news and social media
  • Take care of your body through exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep habits
  • Practice deep breathing and stretching
  • Keep in touch with friends and family

The CDC also offers more information on coping with stress.

When you have a chronic disease like asthma, taking part in a support group can have many benefits. AAFA has free online support groups for people with asthma and allergies. For support and encouragement through the COVID-19 pandemic, join the AAFA community.

Viruses Can Trigger An Asthma Attack

A viral infection can trigger an asthma attack, which will cause the airway to tighten, making it harder to breathe.

If the attack is mild, asthma symptoms can be treated at home, but if the attack is more serious, a person with asthma may need emergency treatments. These treatments may include oxygen, antibiotics and medications administered through a nebulizer.

If you experience severe symptoms, call 911 or go to the hospital. Hospitals are safe places to go for care. Delaying emergency care for any reason, including coronavirus fears, can make your condition worse or even be life-threatening. Learn more about in an emergency.

Antibiotics do not kill viruses, so they cannot cure COVID-19, but a doctor might prescribe antibiotics if a bacterial infection is also present in the lungs.

Signs Of Uncontrolled Asthma

Most deaths from asthma come from uncontrolled asthma. Make sure your asthma is always well controlled by having your child on the correct preventative medications. Seeing an asthma specialist such as pulmonologist or allergist can also help, Parikh said.

Signs of uncontrolled asthma can sneak up on you, so be sure to know the symptoms of it: waking up at night, using your quick relief inhaler more than twice a week, needing oral or injected steroids one to two times per year, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath all of these are signs your asthma is not controlled, she said.

There are two types of medicine: quick relief and long-term control.

Have A Plan If You Get Sick

Determine who could assist you if you were to get sick and had to , and look for a way to have medications and food delivered to your home.

UMMS provides our expert-reviewed content to keep our community informed. When sharing this copyrighted content, please link to our site so that critical updates are reflected.

In This Section:

What Are Oral And Intravenous Corticosteroids For Asthma

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Methylprednisolone , prednisone , and prednisolone may need to be prescribed when inhaled medications fail to control asthma. Examples of such situations include after an acute asthma attack or when a respiratory infection or allergy aggravates asthma symptoms.

How corticosteroids work

Corticosteroids decrease the inflammation within the airway passages that contributes to asthma symptoms and acute attacks.

Who should not use these medications

  • Individuals who are allergic to corticosteroids should not use these drugs.
  • Individuals with systemic fungal infections or active tuberculosis should not use these drugs without medical supervision.


Drug or food interactions

Use caution with other drugs that suppress the immune system, such as cyclosporine . Phenobarbital , phenytoin , or rifampin may decrease the effectiveness of corticosteroids. Some drugs, such as ketoconazole or erythromycin , may increase blood levels and toxicity of corticosteroids. An increased risk of stomach bleeding may occur when taken with high-dose aspirin or with blood thinners such as warfarin . Corticosteroids tend to increase blood glucose levels in individuals with diabetes, so diabetic therapy, such as insulin or oral medicines, may need to be adjusted. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking other medications with oral corticosteroids.

Side effects

Risk Factors For Asthma

Several risk factors have been associated with asthma mortality, including a history of near-fatal asthma requiring intubation and mechanical ventilation, hospitalization or emergency care visit for asthma in the past year, currently using or having recently stopped using oral corticosteroids , not currently using inhaled corticosteroids, a history of psychiatric disease or psychosocial problems, poor adherence with asthma medications and/or poor adherence with a written asthma action plan, food allergy in a patient with asthma .

Near-fatal asthma and fatal asthma represent the most severe clinical presentations of asthma. Near fatal asthma is described as acute asthma associated with a respiratory arrest or arterial carbon dioxide tension greater than 50 mmHg, with or without altered consciousness requiring mechanical ventilation . In the NFA the most important pathophysiological events that lead to death are cardiac arrhythmias and asphyxia followed by complications of invasive mechanical ventilation such as barotrauma and ventilator-associated pneumonia. In a study of asthma patients admitted with a near-fatal episode, two-thirds of subsequent severe attacks or deaths occurred within 1 year of the previous life-threatening admission .

It was observed that the prevalence of sensitisation to moulds increased with increasing severity of asthma .

Several factors were identified as contributing factors in asthma deaths .

What Are Anticholinergic Inhalers For Asthma

Ipratropium bromide , tiotropium , and umeclidinium are used with beta-agonists for severe symptoms.

How anticholinergic inhalers work

These drugs decrease bronchospasm and secretion of mucus in airways and are often used with albuterol to enhance effectiveness. In general, they are not as effective as the beta-agonists in treating asthma. These medications work by blocking receptors that cause spasm.

Who should not use these medications

  • Individuals who are allergic to any components of the inhaled product should not take these drugs.
  • Individuals who are allergic to soya lecithin or similar food products, such as soybeans or peanuts, should not take these drugs.


Both handheld inhalers and a solution for use with a nebulizer are available. Many inhaled products have specific devices and you should be thoroughly informed on how to use the inhaler or nebulizer prescribed for you. These drugs are typically used three to four times per day.

Drug or food interactions

Since anticholinergic inhalers have little or no effect beyond the area applied, they are unlikely to interact with other drugs.

Side effects

Anticholinergic inhalers are not indicated for acute asthma attacks. The most common adverse effect is dry mouth. Individuals with glaucoma should be closely monitored by their ophthalmologist.

Will My Wheezing Or Coughing Be Worse

Not necessarily. You might be surprised to learn that you may not have more of these than usual during a severe asthma attack. So donât judge how bad your asthma attack is based on how much you wheeze or cough.

In fact, very severe asthma attacks may affect your airways so much that you donât get enough air in and out of your lungs to make a wheezing sound or cough.

Does My Child Need To Wear A Mask

How To Treat An Asthma Attack | What To Do During An Asthma Attack | Inhaler Treatment At Home

COVID-19 vaccinations are now available in the U.S. for everyone 12 years old and older. Children in this age range should get vaccinated as soon as possible so they are protected from COVID-19.

Children should continue to wear a face mask and stay 3 feet apart in all public spaces, including schools if they are:

  • 2 years old and older
  • Too young to receive the COVID-19 shot
  • Are not fully vaccinated

Children with a disability that keeps them from safely wearing a mask and children under 2 should not wear masks.

What Is Asthma Anyway

First up, a little anatomy refresher: Your airways, which extend between your nose and mouth and your lungs, have the very important job of carrying air in and out of your body, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . When you have asthma, triggers like animal fur, pollen, mold, cold air, cigarette smoke, exercise, and respiratory infections like colds cause your airways to get inflamed, according to the NHLBI. That inflammation can cause swelling, which in turn can prompt the muscles around your airways to tighten, making it hard to get air in and out. At the same time, your airways might also expel more mucus than they usually do, making it even harder to breathe.

Experts dont know exactly what causes some people to get asthma when others dont, but its pretty safe to assume that its probably a combination of environmental factors and genetic factors. For example, if someone in your immediate family has asthma, youre more likely to have it too, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Beyond that, the general cause is a stronger-than-normal response from your immune system to certain triggers, which is why you get all that inflammation when people without asthma dont, says the NHLBI.

So What Are The Symptoms You Should Watch Out For

Which signs of asthma you might experience differs from person to person and some are more common than others, Raymond Casciari, M.D., a pulmonologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California, tells SELF. Its possible that youll have such a mild reaction to one of your personal asthma triggers that you dont take much note of it. But if the effects get worse, they can turn into an asthma attack, which is a potentially life-threatening exacerbation of asthma symptoms. Thats why its so important to know the common signs of asthma, including the more subtle ones.

These are classic asthma signs you should know:

  • Shortness of breath: This is an obvious complication that happens when you cant get enough oxygen due to the way your airways and their surrounding muscles are reacting to asthma triggers, Sadia Benzaquen, M.D., a pulmonologist and associate professor in the department of internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, tells SELF.

  • Cough: When an irritant gets into your throat or airways, it stimulates nerves that prompt your brain to make the muscles in your chest and abdomen expel air from your lungs with a cough, according to the Mayo Clinic. Since a sensitivity to irritants can cause asthma symptoms, coughing is a hallmark sign of this condition, says Dr. Benzaquen. In fact, its the most common sign of asthma Dr. Parikh has seen people ignore.

  • Some people may have these less common signs of asthma:

    What Should I Do If Im Not Fully Vaccinated Against Covid

    If you have not received a COVID-19 shot yet, plan to get vaccinated as soon as possible. People who are unvaccinated are at the highest risk of getting the delta variant of the coronavirus, spreading it to other people, and becoming hospitalized and/or dying of the virus. If you believe you are not eligible for the vaccine due to your medical conditions, talk with your doctor to see what options may be available to you.

    People who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant should get the COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant people are at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 when compared to non-pregnant people.1 Recent pregnancy may also raise a personâs risk for developing severe COVID-19. If you get COVID-19 while pregnant, you are at increased risk for preterm birth and other poor pregnancy outcomes.2

    If you are not fully vaccinated, you will need to continue to take steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This includes wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and washing your hands often with soap and water.

    Fully vaccinated people with delta variant breakthrough infections can spread the virus to other people.

    Asthma Attacks And Children

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    If your child has asthma, it’s important to teach them about symptoms that can lead to an attack. This will help your child alert you if they start to feel an asthma attack coming on.

    Another thing you can do is review what happened during an asthma attack once your child is safe and everyone has calmed down. Talk about what they felt and help them understand why it happened. You can also review what actions everyone took, why they helped, and look for ways to improve on it if it occurs again. 

    What Are Methylxanthines For Asthma

    Theophylline may be prescribed to take with other controller medications.

    How methylxanthines work

    Methylxanthines are related to caffeine. These drugs provide mild to moderate relaxation of muscles in the airway to decrease bronchospasm. Essentially, they work as long-acting bronchodilators. These medications may have a mild anti-inflammatory effect.

    Who should not use these medications

    • Individuals who are allergic to methylxanthines
    • Individuals with active peptic ulcer disease


    Methylxanthines are administered orally as tablets, capsules, liquid preparations, or sprinkles . Some oral preparations are available in long-acting doses, allowing the dose to be taken once or twice each day. Your doctor will adjust the dose to maintain specific blood levels known to be effective to decrease bronchospasm.

    Drug or food interactions

    Ingesting large amounts of caffeine contained in coffee, tea, or soft drinks may increase theophylline side effects. Some drugs that may increase theophylline blood levels include cimetidine , erythromycin , and ciprofloxacin . Some drugs that may decrease theophylline blood levels include phenytoin and carbamazepine . Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking or stopping other medications to know how your theophylline blood levels will be affected by the change.

    Side effects

    How Can I Tell The Difference Between Asthma Covid

    Some symptoms are similar between these respiratory illnesses. This chart can help you figure out if you may be feeling symptoms of asthma, allergies, or a respiratory illness like COVID-19, the flu, or a cold. Respiratory illnesses may worsen asthma, so itâs important to keep taking your asthma medicines. If you have a fever and a cough, call your doctor. If you have seasonal allergies, there are things you can do to treat them at home.

    Asthma Medicines And Treatments

    What medicines do I need to take for my asthma?

    Most people with asthma are prescribed two inhalers a reliever inhaler which is usually blue. And a preventer inhaler, often brown.

    The reliever inhaler deals quickly with symptoms when they happen. You should keep your reliever inhaler handy so its always there when you need it. It can be a life-saver in an asthma attack. But it doesnt deal with the underlying inflammation.

    The preventer inhaler is the one you need to take every day, even when youre feeling well. It keeps down the inflammation in your airways.

    When your airways are inflamed youre more likely to get symptoms like coughing and wheezing when youre around your asthma triggers. So, getting into a routine with your preventer is a good idea.

    If youre still having symptoms, even though youre taking your preventer inhaler every day as prescribed, your GP might prescribe you a Leukotriene Receptor Antagonist tablet to take every day alongside your usual preventer inhaler. Or consider a different kind of inhaler called a combination inhaler.

    Do I have to take inhalers for the rest of my life?

    Asthma is a long-term condition, so you do need to carry on treating it to keep symptoms away.

    Your asthma preventer inhaler, taken every day as prescribed, stops inflammation in your airways. It works in the background to keep symptoms away. And if you go for regular asthma reviews you can make sure youre on the lowest dose possible to control your symptoms.

    After An Asthma Attack

    What happens to the body when person has an asthma attack?

    You should see a GP or asthma nurse within 48 hours of leaving hospital, or ideally on the same day if you did not need hospital treatment.

    About 1 in 6 people treated in hospital for an asthma attack need hospital care again within 2 weeks, so it’s important to discuss how you can reduce your risk of future attacks.

    Talk to a doctor or nurse about any changes that may need to be made to manage your condition safely.

    For example, the dose of your treatment may need to be adjusted or you may need to be shown how to use your inhaler correctly.

    I Had No Idea Asthma Could Be Fatal

    Thelma Doswell describes her husband’s sudden death from the disease and urges sufferers to use their inhalers

    As a year-long national review into asthma is launched, Thelma Doswell describes her husband’s sudden death from the disease and urges sufferers to use their inhalers

    At 7.50am, Gary Doswell left for work in his car as usual, texting his wife Thelma on the way.

    What do you fancy doing tonight? he tapped.

    She phoned him back and the couple chatted about their plans for that evening. They ended their conversation as they always did, saying: Love you.

    Minutes later, on April 7 2011, Gary, from Hythe, Southampton, was dead.

    Hed driven into the side of a lorry after suffering a fatal asthma attack. He was 35.

    For Thelma and their family-of-eight, his death came as a bolt from the blue. Shocking statistics show that one person dies from asthma every eight hours.

    But a new national review, that will investigate the cause of asthma deaths, is hoping to reduce that number to two or three every year so that cases like Garys will become few and far between.

    For the first time, all asthma deaths in the UK are being scrutinised for 12 months until January 31, 2013.

    Funded by the Department of Health and led by the Royal College of Physicians, the National Review of Asthma Deaths aims to understand why people die from asthma and how deaths can be prevented.

    Too many people die of asthma in the UK and we have some lessons to learn.

    Asthma facts

    Q: Is Asthma More Dangerous For Adults

    A: Yes. The death rate for adult-onset asthma is substantially higher than the death rate for childhood asthma.

    One reason may be that adults either ignore asthma symptoms or attribute them to being overweight, being out of shape or getting older.

    Asthma symptoms can also mimic those of other illnesses, including:

    Sticking To Your Asthma Action Plan

    Work with your doctor to develop a personalized action plan to help keep your asthma under control. Your plan will include things like how often to take your asthma medications, when to step up your treatment, when to see your doctor, and what to do if you have an asthma attack.

    Make copies of your asthma action plan for reference. You can also keep a photo of your plan on your phone. Its a good idea to share this information with family and loved ones so they know what to do if you have an attack. If youre too ill to make your own medical decisions, they should know to get you to medical help as quickly as possible.

    Can Asthma Kill You

    My Life as an Asthma Mom: Deadly asthma attacks

    Asthma causes symptoms like wheezing, breathing difficulties, chest pain or tightness, and spasmodic coughing that often worsens at night. Asthma may impair individuals’ ability to exercise, to engage in outdoor activities, to have pets, or to tolerate environments with smoke, dust, or mold. Although asthma can be controlled with medications, asthma attacks vary in intensity from mild to life-threatening. Over the past several decades, the number of asthma attacks that result in death has increased dramatically.

    What Happens During An Asthma Attack

    Asthma attacks are caused by sudden bronchoconstriction . Your bronchi are passageways through which air enters the lungs. Your immune system can overact and release chemicals into the bloodstream that induce bronchoconstriction, making it difficult for air to enter the lungs.

    Asthma attacks are characterized by three distinct features:

    • Bronchoconstriction and spasm of the bronchi, which narrows or closes them off, preventing air from entering the lungs
    • Excessive mucus in the lungs, which clogs the bronchi, restricting air flow
    • Inflammation of the air passages, which thickens the bronchi, narrowing the lumen

    Recurrent asthma attacks can lead to progressive scarring. This leaves permanent, irreversible damage that makes it even more difficult for air to flow into the lungs.

    What Asthma Feels Like

    Experiencing asthma is a very personal journey; no two individuals have exactly the same triggers or symptoms, and one persons asthma attack might be very different from one day to the next.

    Ezra Kirk from Bath, in the United Kingdom is heavily asthmatic. He told Medical News Today that his asthma attacks give him tight chest and shoulders, pressure everywhere above the diaphragm, including the face and head, a constant grasping for breath, and an inability to breath deeply.

    Hannah Bastick from Brighton, also in the U.K. has a 2-year-old daughter who has been to hospital several times since birth with severe wheezing. An attack is very scary as a parent, she told MNT. I couldnt leave her to sleep by herself when its obvious how little oxygen is getting into her lungs.

    Her daughters symptoms are triggered by severe colds, and she has been officially diagnosed with virally induced wheeze. When she gets a bad cold, she becomes permanently wheezy within 24 hours, Ms. Bastick explained.

    It becomes increasingly severe until we dont feel safe enough for her to sleep unwatched, so we take her to the hospital. By this stage, her breathing is very labored and she grunts with every .

    The number of new asthma cases has been steadily rising since the 1980s. The condition is the third-ranking reason for children to be admitted to hospital, and it kills 10 U.S. individuals every single day.

    Asthma Attack And Respiratory Failure

    People with severe asthma also have an increased risk for respiratory failure. Respiratory failure occurs when not enough oxygen travels from your lungs to your blood. Life-threatening asthma is rare, but tends to cause symptoms that get progressively worse over several days. Ask your doctor more about your treatment options and how to manage your condition, if you believe you may have asthma that is life-threatening.

    If respiratory failure isnt treated immediately, it can lead to death. The estimates that nine Americans die from asthma every day. There are more than 4,000 asthma-related deaths a year in America. But many of these deaths are preventable with proper symptom and emergency care.

    What Are Animal Allergens

    Asthma, it can kill you.

    Animals can be a big asthma trigger. The animal parts that can trigger asthma symptoms are dander , saliva , urine , and feathers.

    If your pet is an asthma trigger for you, these tips might help:

    • Keep pets outside. At the very least, keep them out of your bedroom.
    • Have someone else wash and brush your pet every week.
    • Play with your pet, but try not to hug or kiss it.
    • Ask other people in your household to wash their hands after touching your pet.
    • If you have an animal that lives in a cage, keep it in a room that you don’t spend time in. Someone other than you should clean the cage daily.
    • Consider getting cold-blooded pets, such as fish, which are OK for kids with asthma.

    If you try all these things but still have lots of asthma flare-ups, you may need to find another home for your pet.

    Q: What Increases Your Risk For Adult

    A: Most childhood asthma disappears in adulthood. But having childhood asthma increases your risk of a relapse in your 30s or 40s. Other factors that increase the risk of adult-onset asthma include:

    • Being overweight or obese: A low level of physical activity, changes in lung physiology and higher levels of inflammation are among several factors at play.
    • Being female: Hormonal fluctuations in pregnancy and menopause can trigger asthma.
    • Allergens: Cats, cigarette smoke, chemicals, mold or dust can trigger asthma.


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