What To Do After An Asthma Attack
An asthma attack can be a learning experience if you and your doctor use it to refine your asthma action plan. Get some tips on what to do after an asthma attack.
An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms that causes your air passages to become smaller and makes your breathing more difficult. Symptoms of an asthma attack may include difficult and painful breathing, coughing, and wheezing. Anyone with asthma needs to have a plan for what to do during an asthma attack. But you should also know what to do after an asthma attack.
“You can’t always avoid an asthma attack, but you can check in with your doctor and use an asthma attack as a way to improve your asthma management,” said Jonathan Bernstein, MD, an associate professor in allergy and asthma at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center. “In some cases, an asthma attack may be an indication that you need to make some changes.”
Seeing your doctor after an asthma attack is especially important if you are newly diagnosed. “Discussing the attack with your doctor can help you learn more about your asthma and empower you to manage your asthma better in the future,” said Sumita Khatri, MD, co-director of the asthma center at the Cleveland Clinic.
What Asthma Treatment Options Are There
You have options to help manage your asthma. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to control symptoms. These include:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines: These medicines reduce swelling and mucus production in your airways. They make it easier for air to enter and exit your lungs. Your healthcare provider may prescribe them to take every day to control or prevent your symptoms.
- Bronchodilators: These medicines relax the muscles around your airways. The relaxed muscles let the airways move air. They also let mucus move more easily through the airways. These medicines relieve your symptoms when they happen.
- Biologic therapies for asthma when symptoms persist despite being on proper inhaler therapy.
You can take asthma medicines in several different ways. You may breathe in the medicines using a metered-dose inhaler, nebulizer or other inhaler. Your healthcare provider may prescribe oral medications that you swallow.
Is Fatigue A Sign Of Asthma
Response from Leon C. Lebowitz, BA, RRT:
Asthma is characterized by hypersensitivity of the airways. We tend to describe the main symptoms of asthma as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness, which may include pain or pressure.3
Waking up at night and concomitant fatigue are characteristics of poorly controlled asthma. Inadequate rest and sleep during the night subsequently impacts normal functioning during the day. Again, this may manifest itself as a feeling of being tired and/or feeling constantly exhausted.3
Persistent bouts of coughing combined with increased use of one’s accessory muscles during asthma exacerbations often results in muscle fatigue and sometimes, muscle pain. The constant wheezing that can accompany exacerbations also contributes towards a feeling of being weakened, tired, and fatigued.2
The best approach to treating the fatigue that is associated with one’s asthma is to keep it under control. Signs that asthma may be out of control include more frequent use of one’s rescue inhaler, increased shortness of breath, self-limiting physical activities because of one’s asthma condition, and any other signs that are specific for the individual.2
How Do You Monitor Asthma Symptoms
Monitoring your asthma symptoms is an essential piece of managing the disease. Your healthcare provider may have you use a peak flow meter. This device measures how fast you can blow air out of your lungs. It can help your provider make adjustments to your medication. It also tells you if your symptoms are getting worse.
After An Asthma Attack
For several days following a flare-up you are at greater risk of additional asthma attacks. During this time period:
- Avoid your asthma triggers
- Use a peak flow monitor to keep track of your breathing
- As always, take your medications as instructed, even when you feel great
When you stray from your doctors orders regarding asthma treatment, you put yourself at risk of a serious condition called airway remodeling.
Severe asthma attacks can cause brain damage or death.
In this condition, your lungs become scarred. This reduces the effectiveness of your asthma medications and weakens your ability to breathe. You can avoid airway remodeling by working with your doctor to develop and maintain a treatment plan that works for you, reducing your risk of asthma attacks.
If you need medical assistance, contact CareFinders at 1-866-608-FIND to make an appointment with a physician, or call 911 immediately if it is an emergency.
What People With Asthma Need To Know About Face Masks During The Covid
We updated this blog post to include updated face mask guidance from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
Do Children Need To Wear Face Masks
COVID-19 vaccines 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.
The CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.
Children with a disability that keeps them from safely wearing a mask and children under 2 should not wear masks.
Book An Urgent Appointment With Your Gp Or Asthma Nurse
Tell reception you need an urgent appointment because you’ve had an asthma attack. Book an appointment even if you feel better now. And even if youve been started on treatment for your asthma attack.
Even if youre OK now you still need a check-up from your GP or asthma nurse to make sure youre not at risk from another attack.
You need an urgent same day appointment if:
- you dealt with an asthma attack at home using your blue reliever inhaler but didn’t need to call an ambulance.
You need an urgent appointment within two working days if:
- you were treated in hospital or by paramedics in the ambulance
- you needed to use any of your ‘rescue pack’ of steroid tablets to deal with your worsening asthma symptoms.
If you had an asthma attack but didn’t see your GP at the time it is still important to see your doctor or asthma nurse now, says Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UKs in-house GP.
Your asthma may still not be well controlled and you could be at risk of another asthma attack.
Recover more quickly from an asthma attack with support from your GP
Even though you may have dealt with your asthma attack at home, or been treated for it in hospital, its still important to see your GP or asthma nurse after having an asthma attack.
Your GP or asthma nurse can support your recovery and lower your risk of another attack.
check your medicines to see if youre on the best dose for you, and that youre taking your inhalers in the right way.
When It Comes To Eosinophilic Asthma Severity Varies
Symptoms of eosinophilic asthma can vary widely, according to Michael Peters, MD, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
Some patients describe an impact on daily life thats relatively mild, with just a little cough, Dr. Peters says. For others, its extremely debilitating where youre being treated in the hospital with high doses of corticosteroids and its completely changed your quality of life to the point that you cant really function at all.
According to Parikh, some people with eosinophilic asthma experience a squeezing sensation in the chest. Many have a hard time taking deep breaths, or even catching their breath. Sometimes its so bad, people cant even talk, or cant talk in complete sentences.
Other signs that point to eosinophilic asthma include ending up in the emergency room more, in the doctors office more, requiring higher doses of medicines requiring prednisone, says Parikh. People will say theyre unable to do simple household chores or play with their children, or they describe chest tightness like a squeezing pain that can sometimes be mistaken for a heart attack. Theyre missing work or school .
Remedies And Lifestyle Factors
Although medications can help control and treat symptoms, they are just one part of an effective treatment plan. A person should identify triggers and avoid them to help prevent future asthma attacks.
Physical activity helps to
1 in 12 individuals in the United States. People with the condition have a lot of treatment and support options.
People with nocturnal asthma should be on the lookout for signs of other related conditions, such as acid reflux and obstructive sleep apnea . These conditions have a bidirectional relationship with nocturnal asthma, which means that having one condition increases the chance of having the other.
As many as of those with asthma also experience acid reflux.
Some related conditions can be hard to spot. For example, nocturnal asthma and OSA have many of the same symptoms. If an individual thinks they may have OSA, they should contact their doctor.
Managing nocturnal asthma is important for a persons health and quality of life. Nocturnal asthma can result in inadequate asthma control and increased morbidity, meaning a state of poor or decreasing health.
According to the WHO, most deaths related to asthma symptoms occur during the night. Although asthma-related deaths are rare, they pose a real risk, so it is important that a person with asthma talk to a doctor and establish an effective treatment plan.
Who Can Get Asthma
Anyone can develop asthma at any age. People with allergies or people exposed to tobacco smoke and secondhand smoke are more likely to develop asthma.
Statistics show women tend to have asthma more than men, and asthma affects Black Americans more frequently than other races.
When a child develops asthma, healthcare providers call it childhood asthma. If it develops later in life, its adult-onset asthma.
Children do not outgrow asthma. They may have fewer symptoms as they get older, but they could still have an asthma attack. Your childs healthcare provider can help you understand the risks.
How To Avoid Asthma Triggers
If you know what your asthma triggers are, then where possible, its beneficial to try to avoid them.
If theres a particular allergen culprit you know of, then keeping your home clean and dust-free can help. For example, you could consider swapping carpets for wooden floors to reduce the amount of dust build-up or hiring a cleaner so youre not personally exposed to dust when cleaning.
It can be more difficult to avoid asthma triggers completely when youre at work, especially if your asthma is occupational and linked to your working environment. In an ideal world, you could simply change jobs to something more suitable for your health, but in reality this isnt always feasible.
Let your employer or the HR department know about your asthma. You should be able to discuss the options available for optimising your work environment to be more suitable to your needs.
Keeping on top of your asthma management plan, working alongside your doctor or asthma nurse and making sure you take your inhalers or other asthma medications should help to control your symptoms. Making practical lifestyle choices is important too, like eating healthily, exercising and not smoking.
It can also be beneficial to learn an asthma breathing technique. There are various breathing techniques that can help asthma and knowing how to breathe properly could help if something unexpectedly triggers an attack.
What Are Asthma Attack Symptoms
Usually is not terribly subtle, Dr. Grayson says.
He explains that signs of an asthma attack often include:
- Shortness of breath, coughing, and breathing difficulties
- Feeling like you cant breathe air out
- Wheezingor a whistling noise as you exhale
- Inability to speak in full sentences
These asthma attack symptoms can last a couple of hours for some people, he explains. In others, they might last for days.
And some people die, Dr. Grayson says. Thats why anything thats limiting daily activities should be evaluated by your doctor right away.
When people treat an attack as soon as it startsand take controller medicine to prevent attacks in the first placetheir risks reduce and outcomes improve, he says.
Controller medications, often a corticosteroid, can be taken daily on a long-term basis to control underlying inflammation.
They differ from rescue medications, like albuterol, which people take via an inhaler or nebulizer to open airways when they are experiencing asthma symptoms.
What To Do During An Asthma Attack
Everyone with asthma should have and follow a doctor-designed asthma action plan, says says Joi Lucas, MD, a pediatric pulmonologist and chief of pediatrics at Lakeland Regional Health in Lakeland, Florida.
This personalized plan provides clear instructions for someones day-to-day asthma management.
It also indicates what to do if symptoms worsensuch as during an attackclarifying measures like which medications to take and when to seek professional care.
Dr. Lucas explains that these plans typically have three management sections that correlate with the severity of someones current symptoms, including:
- The green zone: Youre not having symptoms and should take your daily medication as prescribed.
- The yellow zone: Symptoms like coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath are present, and you should refer to this section of your plan for guidance on which and how much of your medicines to take.
- The red zone: This indicates a breathing emergency that requires immediate medical treatment. Someone in this zone might be experiencing severe symptoms and/or getting no relief from their medications.
An asthma action plan can also help people recognize the early warning signs of a serious attack, like feeling tired and out of breath, having an irritating cough, or developing cold or allergy symptoms.
Why Asthma Can Wake You Up At Night
If your asthma isnt under control, you might get more symptoms at night.
There are several reasons why this might happen:
- At night, your body produces fewer natural steroid hormones, which can affect your symptoms and more of the cells that cause inflammation in your airways.
- When you lie flat on your back, gravity places extra pressure on your chest and lungs, making it harder to breathe. This position can also trigger a cough, as mucus in your nose could drip down to the back of your throat.
- Your bedroom might contain triggers that can make your asthma worse, such as dust mites in your mattress, pillows and blankets.
- Pet hair is a common asthma trigger, so avoid letting your pet sleep on your bed, and ideally keep them out of your bedroom.
- Mould is another common asthma trigger, so check your bedroom for damp patches on walls and mould growing around windows.
- Lots of people find pollen triggers their asthma symptoms. When pollen is high, try using a fan to keep your bedroom cool rather than opening a window.
- Some people are triggered by cold air at night, or by sleeping in a cold room. If this is you, keep windows closed and keep the heating on low in the bedroom if you can.
If your GP has prescribed steroid pills for your asthma, youll probably be advised to take them in the morning after food, as they might cause difficulty sleeping if you take them at night, but always take them exactly as prescribed.
Can People With Asthma Wear Face Masks
Yes, people with asthma can wear face masks.
The CDC recommends that you wear a mask in public indoor spaces even if you are fully vaccinated. The WHO recommends wearing a fabric mask that allows you to breathe while talking and walking quickly.
For people with very mild asthma or well-controlled asthma, its probably not going to be an issue, said Dr. David Stukus, member of the Medical Scientific Council for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America . For people who have very severe disease and have frequent exacerbations, ER visits, hospitalizations, require lots of medications and frequent symptoms, it might cause more issues for those folks.
If youre having trouble wearing a mask, try a different fabric or fit. Wearing some kind of breathable face mask is better than nothing. According to the WHO, medical masks when worn the right way do not cause you to breathe in more carbon dioxide or reduce your oxygen levels. Other studies back this up as well. And a face mask made of three layers probably wont fit tightly enough to affect your oxygen either. If your mask is uncomfortable, try a new type of mask.
The Relationship Between Asthma And Fatigue
Working hard to breathe requires a lot of energy. With asthma, there are many times you may be working hard without even realizing it, particularly if you have been living with this condition for a long time.
You may be worried about how your illness is affecting you and your loved ones and the impacts it will have in the future. Stress is exhausting couple the stress of living with a chronic condition with the ordinary burdens of everyday life and its no wonder youre fatigued.
Many people who suffer from asthma also are plagued with anxiety and depression. Both of these conditions drain your energy. Sleeplessness, medication and infections may cause fatigue as well.
If your asthma fatigue is ongoing or difficult to relieve, consult with your health care provider. It could even be unrelated to your asthma, in which case it is very important you get to your doctors right away to determine treatment.
Asthma Is A Complex Condition
Occasionally, people with asthma experience what are known as silent symptoms. This is where the signs of the tightening of the airways dont result in the familiar asthma sounds of wheezing and coughing. If you or someone you live with, work with, or care for experiences silent symptoms, it is important they consult a doctor for an ongoing Asthma Action Plan. People around the person with asthmasuch as co-workers, school teachers or daycare educators should know about the silent symptoms so they can respond if needed. Asthma can start at any age, and can be more of a problem when it starts in older adults. Dont assume if you never had asthma as a child that its not possible to develop symptoms now. Being breathless is not a normal part of getting older, it should always be checked out by a doctor.
How Do You Stop An Asthma Attack Without An Inhaler
If you are diagnosed with asthma, you should make sure you have an inhaler with you at all times. However, if a worst case scenario occurs and you experience when you dont have a reliever inhaler with you, there are practical steps you can take to ease your symptoms.
- Stay as calm as you can find a way to reduce any anxiety, such as holding someones hand or playing music
- Sit upright this will help keep your airways open
- Breathe slowly and deeply slowing down your breathing can reduce the risk of hyperventilating
- If something appears to have triggered your asthma, such as breathing in cold air or being exposed to smoke, move away from the trigger
- Try breathing exercises the pursed lip breathing technique can help you deal with shortness of breath
- Have a drink containing caffeine there is some evidence to suggest that caffeine can help improve airway function for up to four hours.
Asthma can be a life-threatening condition, so at the very least, aim to keep a spare reliever inhaler in your handbag, locker at work or coat pocket.
What Are Other Benefits To Wearing Face Masks
Pollen can trigger asthma. Wearing a mask can help keep pollen from getting into your nose and lungs. Even though a mask can help prevent symptoms, consider going outside when pollen counts are lower.
Changes in the weather can also be an asthma trigger, so keep it in mind when wearing a mask. When its cold, wearing a face mask can warm and humidify the air you breathe. Hot and humid weather can make wearing a mask more uncomfortable. Consider going out at times of the day when the weather is milder.
Exercise is important for people with asthma. Stay active but avoid situations where you would need a mask. If you are outside on a trail or in a park, you probably wouldnt need to wear a mask. Consider working out outside or at home instead of going to a gym or exercise class that may require a mask.
Masks also can protect you from respiratory infections like the flu, COVID-19, and even the common cold. Masks provide protection for people who are immunocompromised.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Asthma
If you suspect you might have asthma, you should see your doctor for a professional diagnosis. Dont ignore it if you do have asthma, the sooner you get it under control, the faster you can get back to living a full and active life. For more information on how Asthma Australia is helping people with asthma to breathe so they can live freely, visit About Us.
Nocturnal Asthma And Children
Asthma is more common in children than in adults and is the most common chronic disease in children worldwide. Accurately diagnosing and treating nocturnal asthma in children is especially important because the effects of nocturnal asthma, like loss of sleep and daytime sleepiness, are associated with behavioral and developmental difficulties.
Unfortunately, nocturnal asthma often goes undiagnosed in children because they tend to underestimate or not report their nighttime symptoms. For this reason, its helpful for parents to monitor and report back to the doctor any concerning symptoms in children. These symptoms may include wheezing, disturbed sleep, daytime sleepiness, and difficulties concentrating at school.
If You Suspect You Might Have Asthma Definitely Head To The Doctor
Your doctor will probably give you a physical exam first to examine the general state of your health. After that, theyll likely put you through some lung function tests, such as a spirometry, which checks how much air you can exhale after taking a deep breath as well as how fast you can expel air, according to the Mayo Clinic. Or they may do a peak flow test, which measures how hard you can breathe out. If you cant exhale enough air or breathe out quickly, it may be a sign your lungs arent working well, which could point to asthma, Dr. Benzaquen says.
There are other exams they can use, too, like exposing you to methacholine, a known asthma trigger, to see if your airways narrow, or allergy testing, since allergies and asthma are so often connected.
If you are diagnosed with asthma, itll be within one of four categories, according to the Mayo Clinic. Mild intermittent asthma means you have minimal asthma symptoms for up to two days a week and up to two nights a month, while mild persistent asthma means youre experiencing symptoms more frequently than twice a week, but not more than once on any given day. Moderate persistent asthma ups the ante: Youre dealing with symptoms once a day and more than one night a week. Finally, severe persistent asthma involves constant symptoms most days and frequently at night too.
Youre In Your Forties
The peak years for the onset of asthma in adulthood are between 45 and 50, says Richard F. Lockey, MD, director of the Division of Allergy & Immunology at University of South Florida College of Medicine. Most at risk of developing symptoms of asthma are those who have allergies or those who suffered from the disorder as kids but thought they outgrew it. Many asthma symptoms start after an infection. You get a cold and suddenly you have asthma, Dr. Lockey says.