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Can You Die From An Asthma Attack

How Many People Get Sick From Asthma

How does asthma work? – Christopher E. Gaw
  • In 2016, asthma accounted for for 9.8 million doctors office visits4
  • In 2018, asthma accounted for 178,530 discharges from hospital inpatient care and 1.6 million emergency department visits.5,6
  • Black Americans are five times more likely than white Americans to visit the emergency department due to asthma.6

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.

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.

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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

Factors Related To Child Asthma Deaths

Over 1,000 Asthma Patients

The incidence of asthma among children is not evenly distributed. Studies have shown that low-income, African American children not only have a higher rate of asthma when compared with white children, they also have the highest rate of asthma-related deaths. There is a cause-and-effect explanation for this racial disparity:

  • Poor families have less access to health care, including asthma-specific care.
  • Environmental pollutants tend to be higher in lower-income communities.
  • Crowded living conditions can lead to an increased exposure to allergens and infections, resulting in greater exacerbations.

The current statistics also show that only a third of these pediatric deaths occurred in hospital. This would suggest that families either had little or no access to inpatient or emergency care or had little idea as to identify or treat a potentially deadly exacerbation.

Moreover, the inconsistent access to treatment only enhances the likelihood and frequency of these attacks. Its a vicious cycle that places our most vulnerable children at greatest risk.

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Asthma Facts And Figures

Asthma causes swelling of the airways. This results in narrowing of the airways that carry air from the nose and mouth to the lungs. Allergens or irritating things entering the lungs trigger asthma symptoms. Symptoms include trouble breathing, wheezing, coughing and tightness in the chest. Asthma can be deadly.

  • There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed with proper prevention of asthma attacks and treatment.
  • More Americans than ever before have asthma. It is one of this countrys most common and costly diseases.

What Does An Asthma Attack Feel Like

Ask 10 people what an asthma attack feels like, and youll get 10 different answers. Everyones experience is different. The one word that is commonly applied to asthma attacks is that they are awful. Other common words used are struggling or fighting for air. Sometimes an element of fear is involved too when sufferers feel that they can take in enough air. When breathing becomes difficult, the person experiencing the attack may have trouble moving or thinking clearly and may not be able to tell others around him or her what is happening or what they need. The following are examples of how asthma attacks feel to some sufferers:

  • Breathing through a squished straw

  • The air is being squeezed out of me

  • My chest feels tight and inflamed

  • Its a cough centered in my throat as I try to get air into my lungs

  • My body feels out of control

  • I can only focus on getting oxygen into my lungs and nothing else

  • I feel horrible and helpless

  • It feels like half of my lungs are gone

  • Asthma is like a heavy weight on my chest

  • I feel like I am choking or drowning

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    Advice For Friends And Family

    It’s important that your friends and family know how to help in an emergency.

    It can be useful to make copies of your personal asthma action plan and share it with others who may need to know what to do when you have an attack.

    You can photocopy your existing plan, or you could download a blank personal asthma action plan from Asthma UK and fill it in for anyone who might need a copy.

    Or you could take a photo of your action plan on your phone, so you can show or send it to others easily.

    Page last reviewed: 19 April 2021 Next review due: 19 April 2024

    What To Do During An Asthma Attack Without An Inhaler At Night

    What happens during an asthma attack?

    Follow these tips to survive a night-time asthma attack without an inhaler:

    • Sit straight to keep your airways open
    • Stay calm, as stress or panic can worsen your symptoms
    • Take long, deep breaths to reduce symptoms
    • Asthma can be triggered by dust, cigarette smoke, and other allergens. Stay away from triggers and go to any area with clean air.
    • A cup of coffee can open up your airways and provide you some relief
    • Seek emergency medical attention if symptoms persist

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    What Are The Warning Signs

    Being aware of the warning signs of severe asthma and a severe asthma attack are crucial, so that you can take action quickly.

    The symptoms of severe asthma include:

    • Wheezing
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain.

    Sometimes the symptoms of severe asthma can get worse or more frequent prior to a severe asthma attack occurring. For example, you may find that asthma symptoms are being more disruptive to your daily life or usual activities, or you may be needing to use your inhaler more often than usual. You could also find you are having bad asthma at night.

    If you become aware that your usual symptoms are worsening, speak to your doctor or asthma nurse. A review of your medication may be beneficial and a change in regime could help to prevent a severe asthma attack occurring.

    If a severe asthma attack does occur, then the key warning signs for you or other people to look for include:

    • Developing a blue tint on the face, lips or fingernails
    • Rapid breathing
    • Extreme shortness of breath unable to inhale or exhale fully
    • Unable to speak in full sentences
    • Confusion or agitation
    • No relief from using a reliever inhaler.

    If these symptoms occur, go to hospital or seek emergency medical attention immediately. A severe asthma attack is a medical emergency. If you dont seek treatment, your life could be at risk.

    Emergency contacts

    When you need to call for emergency help, every second counts. Knowing what number to call to summon help is crucial.

    What To Do If You Have An Asthma Attack

    If you think youre having an asthma attack, you should:

  • Sit upright and try to take slow, steady breaths. Try to remain calm, as panicking will make things worse.
  • Take 1 puff of your reliever inhaler every 30 to 60 seconds, up to a maximum of 10 puffs.
  • If the ambulance has not arrived within 15 minutes, repeat step 2.
  • Never be frightened of calling for help in an emergency.

    Try to take the details of your medicines with you to hospital if possible.

    If your symptoms improve and you do not need to call 999, get an urgent same-day appointment to see a GP or asthma nurse.

    This advice is not for people on SMART or MART treatment. If this applies to you, ask a GP or asthma nurse what to do if you have an asthma attack.

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    Effects Of Pregnancy On Asthma

    There is no significant risk to you or your unborn child if your asthma is well controlled, but uncontrolled asthma can cause serious complications. For you, the mother, these complications include high blood pressure, toxemia, premature delivery and, rarely, death. For your baby, complications include increased risk of stillbirth.

    While pregnant, about a third of women with asthma experience improved symptoms, about a third have worse symptoms and about a third experience no change.

    Studies on the overall effect of pregnancy on asthma have found the following:

    • While pregnant, women with severe asthma are more likely to see their asthma worsen, whereas women with mild asthma are more likely to see improvement or no change.
    • The change a woman experiences during her first pregnancy is usually similar in future pregnancies.
    • Asthma is most likely to worsen during weeks 24 to 36. About 10 percent of women with asthma have symptoms during labor and delivery.
    • If asthma symptoms change during pregnancy, they usually return to pre-pregnancy status within three months of delivery.

    Contact With The Healthcare System

    Asthma Attack Death: Risks, Causes, Treatment, and More

    More than half of the patients had contact with either their GP and/or the ED prior to SD . Seventeen of the patients had contact with their GP, and 16 patients had contact with the ED, of which five had had contact with their GP initially. The most common symptom leading to contact with the GP and/or ED was dyspnea, as expected however, the type and severity of dyspnea could not be further specified based on the medical records.

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    Personal Asthma Action Plan

    As part of your initial assessment, you should be encouraged to draw up a personal asthma action plan with your GP or asthma nurse.

    If you’ve been admitted to hospital because of an asthma attack, you should be offered an action plan before you go home.

    The action plan should include information about your asthma medicines, and will help you recognise when your symptoms are getting worse and what steps to take. You should also be given information about what to do if you have an asthma attack.

    Your personal asthma action plan should be reviewed with your GP or asthma nurse at least once a year, or more frequently if your symptoms are severe.

    As part of your asthma plan, you may be given a peak flow meter. This will give you another way of monitoring your asthma, rather than relying only on symptoms, so you can recognise deterioration earlier and take appropriate steps.

    Want to know more?

    Do You Know What Type Of Asthma You Have

    Asthma is a disease that affects your airways, which carry air in and out of your lungs. The type of asthma you have depends on your specific triggers.

    Thanks to advances in asthma research, doctors have been able to identify the different types of asthma. The five most common types of asthma are: exercise-induced bronchospasm , allergic asthma, cough-variant asthma, occupational asthma, and nocturnal or nighttime asthma. EIB occurs after physical exertion. Its not always easy to determine which type of asthma you have. Proper diagnosis and regular communication with your doctor can help you to determine the best course of action.

    Asthma is a chronic lung disease, so its important to receive treatment as soon as possible to ensure that your condition doesnt worsen.

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    How To Tell If Your Asthma Is Severe

    Doctors differentiate severe asthma from other, milder forms of asthma according to the frequency and intensity of a persons symptoms.

    For starters, severe asthma is persistent, which doctors define as asthma that causes symptoms more than twice a week, explains Patricia Takach, MD, an associate professor of clinical medicine in the section of allergy and immunology at the University of Pennsylvanias Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia. For many severe asthma sufferers, symptoms occur daily.

    Global Alliance Against Chronic Respiratory Diseases

    Sydney schoolboy dies from suspected asthma attack

    The Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases contributes to WHOs work to prevent and control chronic respiratory diseases. GARD is a voluntary alliance of national and international organizations and agencies from many countries committed to the vision of a world where all people breathe freely.

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    How Common Is Asthma

    According to the CDC, more than 25 million Americans had asthma in 2017, which was almost 8 percent of the population.

    Asthma is more common in children than adults. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, it is more common in adult women than adult men but also more common in boys than girls.

    The group also says that 3,564 people died from asthma in 2017.

    Vicencio said given how common asthma is, some may not appreciate how serious the disease is.

    “Everybody knows somebody who had asthma,” Vicencio said. “People just forget how deadly the disease is.”

    Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan Miller on Twitter

    Danish Registries And Death Certificates

    All Danish citizens have a unique civil registration number, which can be linked to all healthcare-related contacts. Using the civil registration number, we retrieved information on prior medical history from the National Patient Registry. All diagnoses are coded according to the International Classification of Diseases , with ICD-8 codes used from 1977 and ICD-10 codes used since 1994 .

    Danish death certificates can only be issued by a medical doctor and are always issued if the death occurs within Danish borders . The death certificate contains a highly informative supplementary information field that describes in detail the circumstances relating to the death . This information field is mandatory in all medico-legal external examinations. In cases where a person is found dead and the death is sudden and unexpected, external examinations are mandatory by law. The external examination is performed by the police and one of the 34 medical officers of public health . The medical officer of public health always has access to 1) first responder records, 2) the medical files related to the death , 3) the entire police record including all witness statements, and 4) the body.

    All our autopsied sudden cardiac death cases were identified based on an evaluation by two forensic pathologists to determine the presence of conduction abnormalities, myocarditis, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, etc. .

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