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How Do I Know If I Had An Asthma Attack

When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Eib

Symptoms of Asthma

If you or your child has symptoms of exercise or sports-induced asthma, call your provider. Several conditions have symptoms that are similar to EIB. Its essential to get evaluated.

If you or your child has severe shortness of breath or trouble breathing, seek immediate medical attention. Call 911 or go directly to the emergency room.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Many people with exercise-induced asthma play sports, enjoy a range of activities and live an active lifestyle. People of all fitness levels, including Olympic athletes and marathon runners, manage asthma and excel at their sports. If you or your child has EIB, be sure to include a warmup routine before exercise. Keep an eye on pollen counts and air quality before you head outside. Talk to your provider about medications that can help you breathe easier. With lifestyle changes and prior planning, you can stay active and exercise safely.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/17/2021.


What Do I Do If I Have An Asthma Attack

If you or a loved one is having an asthma attack and the symptoms donât get better quickly after following the asthma action plan, follow the red zone or emergency instructions and contact your doctor or right away. You need urgent medical attention.

1. Give asthma first aid.

If the person doesnt have an asthma plan:

  • Sit them upright comfortably and loosen tight clothing.
  • If the person has asthma medication, such as an inhaler, help them take it.
  • If the person doesnât have an inhaler, use one from a first aid kit. Do not borrow someone elseâs. The medicine in it may be different than the needed rescue medicine. Also, using someone elses inhaler has a slight risk of passing on an infection.

2. Use an inhaler with a spacer, if possible.

  • Remove the cap and shake the inhaler well.
  • Insert the inhaler into the spacer.
  • Have the person breathe out completely and put their mouth tightly around the spacer mouthpiece.
  • Press the inhaler once to deliver a puff.
  • Have the person breathe in slowly through their mouth and hold their breath for 10 seconds.
  • Give a total of four puffs, waiting about a minute between each puff.

3. Use an inhaler without a spacer, if necessary.

4. Continue using the inhaler if breathing is still a problem.

5. Monitor the person until help arrives.

  • Do not mistake drowsiness as a sign of improvement it could mean asthma is getting worse.
  • Do not assume that the personâs asthma is improving if you no longer hear wheezing.

6. Follow up.

Side Effects Of Steroid Tablets

Oral steroids carry a risk if they are taken for more than three months or if they are taken frequently . Side effects can include:

  • muscle weakness

With the exception of increased appetite, which is very commonly experienced by people taking oral steroids, most of these unwanted effects are uncommon.

However, it is a good idea to keep an eye out for them regularly, especially side effects that are not immediately obvious, such as high blood pressure, thinning of the bones, diabetes and glaucoma.

You will need regular appointments to check for these.

Read further information:

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Be Prepared With An Asthma Action Plan

One of the best ways to monitor your symptoms and be prepared should an asthma attack occur is with an Asthma Action Plan. Its a personalized, step-by-step document you create with your doctor that will help you understand how to best treat your asthma symptoms before they get worse. Depending on your current symptoms, your asthma will fit into one of three zones:

Green Zone

Your symptoms are mild or virtually nonexistent. This is where you should be on a daily basis. Continue to take your long-term control medicine as prescribed.

Yellow Zone

You may have worsening asthma symptoms or have to use your quick-relief medicine more often. You should be aware of your surroundings, take all medicines as directed, and tell your doctor about your symptoms.

Red Zone

This may be an emergency situation where symptoms are significant. You should seek medical help right away.

What Other Tools Can I Use For Monitoring Asthma Control

Asthma bronchitis Indications &  Symptoms and also just how to get rid ...

Peak Flow Meter

Sometimes doctors recommend a peak flow meter a handheld device that measures how well air moves out of your lungs. A peak flow meter, when used every day, can spot reduced airflow before you notice the signs and symptoms of an asthma episode.

Peak flow meter readings can help you monitor your asthma control. But they are just one tool. Your peak flow meter reading is not the only indicator of asthma control. Always follow your Asthma Action Plan.

Pulse Oximeter

Doctors use pulse oximeters to measure how much oxygen your blood is carrying. Some people with asthma may experience a drop in their oxygen levels in their blood.

Pulse oximeters you can buy online and use at home are not as accurate as medical grade devices. Monitoring your blood oxygen levels with pulse oximeters is not a recommended part of home management of asthma.

Lung Function Tests

Your allergist or pulmonologist may use different lung function tests to assess your asthma control. Learn more about the tests used to diagnose and monitor asthma.

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What Triggers An Asthma Attack

Different people have different asthma triggers. Most commonly, its either environmental allergens like dust, pollen, and animal dander or air pollutants, like smog, wildfire smoke, or cigarette smoke, says Vandana A. Patel, M.D., medical director for pulmonary rehabilitation and ICU services at Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va., and clinical advisor for online pharmacy Cabinet.

With winter approaching, theres another factor to keep in mind. Extremes in weather can also trigger symptoms so, either hot or cold air, Dr. Sporter adds. Very cold, dry air can cause airways to become irritated and swollen, which worsens asthma symptoms.

Exercise can also trigger asthma in some people, though this is its own branch of the condition , she explains.

Dr. Sporter adds that respiratory infections, especially viruses, are a major trigger in many asthmatics.

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Why Does My Asthma Act Up At Night

Asthma can get worse at night. If you have symptoms at night, it’s called nighttime asthma. This is often a sign of uncontrolled asthma. It probably has to do with natural body rhythms and changes in your body’s hormones. With the right asthma management and treatment, you should be able to sleep through the night.

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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 youve 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?

Asthma Management Can Help

ASTHMA Symptoms and Signs – How to KNOW if You Have Asthma!

A single individuals asthma does not necessarily remain in the same category permanently. A person with seasonal asthma triggers may find that at a certain time of year for instance, when ragweed pollen is in the air he or she is in a higher severity group than during the rest of the year.

Asthma that starts during childhood also may become less severe as a person grows and his or her airways become wider. For any person with asthma, effective ongoing asthma control can help them move into a less severe category.

The asthma experts at UI Health can help you bring your asthma under control. To request an appointment, please fill out the online form or call 312.996.3300.

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How Do Triggers Make Asthma Worse

When you have asthma, your airways are always inflamed and sensitive. They react to a variety of external triggers. Contact with these triggers is what causes asthma symptoms. Your airways tighten and get more inflamed, mucus blocks them, and your symptoms get worse. An asthma attack can start right after exposure to a trigger or several days or even weeks later.

Reactions to asthma triggers are different for each person and vary from time to time. Something may bother you but not others with asthma. You might have many triggers while they have none. And while avoiding triggers is a good way to control asthma, the best way is to take medications and follow treatments exactly as prescribed by your doctor in your asthma action plan.

What Should I Do If I Have A Severe Asthma Attack

A severe asthma attack needs immediate medical care. The first step is your rescue inhaler. A rescue inhaler uses fast-acting medicines to open up your airways. Its different than your normal maintenance inhaler, which you use every day. You should only use the rescue inhaler in an emergency.

If your rescue inhaler doesnt help or you dont have it with you, go to the emergency department if you have:

  • Anxiety or panic.
  • Bluish fingernails, bluish lips or gray or whitish lips or gums .
  • Chest pain or pressure.

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Reducing The Burden Of Asthma

Asthma cannot be cured, but good management with inhaled medications can control the disease and enable people with asthma to enjoy a normal, active life.

There are two main types of inhaler:

  • bronchodilators , that open the air passages and relieve symptoms and
  • steroids , that reduce inflammation in the air passages. This improves asthma symptoms and reduces the risk of severe asthma attacks and death.

People with asthma may need to use their inhaler every day. Their treatment will depend on the frequency of symptoms and the different types of inhalers available.

It can be difficult to coordinate breathing using an inhaler, especially for children and during emergency situations. Using a spacer device makes it easier to use an aerosol inhaler and helps the medicine to reach the lungs more effectively. A spacer is a plastic container with a mouthpiece or mask at one end and a hole for the inhaler in the other. A homemade spacer, made from a 500ml plastic bottle, can be as effective as a commercially manufactured inhaler.

Access to inhalers is a problem in many countries. In 2021, bronchodilators were available in public primary health care facilities in half of low- and low-middle income countries, and steroid inhalers available in one third.

What Is An Asthma Action Plan

How to know if I have asthma

Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop an asthma action plan. This plan tells you how and when to use your medicines. It also tells you what to do if your asthma gets worse and when to seek emergency care. Understand the plan and ask your healthcare provider about anything you dont understand.

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Asthma

People with asthma usually have obvious symptoms. These signs and symptoms resemble many respiratory infections:

  • Chest tightness, pain or pressure.

With asthma, you may not have all of these symptoms with every flare. You can have different symptoms and signs at different times with chronic asthma. Also, symptoms can change between asthma attacks.

What Medicine Will Be Given

Reliever medications

These are medicines such as salbutamol which can be given with a blue inhaler and spacer or a nebuliser. They work by relaxing the tightened muscles around the breathing tubes and help the airways to open wider. This makes it easier to breathe.

A spacer is used to help deliver medicine into the lungs and it is the best way to give your child medicine from their inhaler . It has a mouthpiece or mask on one end and a hole for the inhaler at the other. Research shows using a spacer works as well as nebulisers in most asthma attacks. In this hospital we use Aerochamber spacers.

A nebuliser creates a mist of medicine that is then breathed in through a mask. Nebulisers are used if your child needs oxygen at the same time and can deliver higher doses of medication.


Your child will be given a short term course of steroids either in liquid or tablet form to help bring their asthma under control more quickly.

Preventer or maintenance inhaled steroids

Your child might be given a steroid inhaler which is normally given twice a day, every day. This is a treatment inhaled into the lungs using a spacer. The steroid sits on the lining of the airways and helps to reduce how sensitive they are. This helps to prevent asthma attacks. These inhalers are normally brown, orange or purple.

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How To Know If You Have Asthma

This article was co-authored by Shaun Berger, MD. Dr. Shaun Berger is a board certified Pediatrician based in the San Diego, California metro area. Dr. Berger provides comprehensive primary care for newborns, children, and adolescents, focusing on preventive medicine. Dr. Berger earned a BA in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego and an MD from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Berger then completed a residency at the UCSF/Fresno Community Medical Centers/Valley Childrens Hospital where he was elected Chief Resident. He has been awarded the UCSF Foundation Award and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.There are 32 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 62,264 times.

Asthma is a treatable disease that works like an allergic reaction: environmental triggers cause inflammation in the airways. This leads to trouble breathing until the inflammation is treated and reduced. The disease is very common and affects about 334 million people worldwide, including 25 million in the US alone.XTrustworthy SourceNational Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteResearch and education center within the National Institutes of HealthGo to source If you suspect you might have asthma, there are signs and symptoms, risk factors, and diagnostic tests that can help you know for sure.

What Do I Do If Im Having An Asthma Attack

Early Warning Signs of an Asthma Attack

How much time you have once you start feeling symptoms before you enter a full-blown attack is different person-to-person sometimes minutes, sometimes hours, sometimes days, Dr. Patel says.

Ideally though, as an asthmatic, you and your doctor have already worked out a plan of action in case an attack ever happens. Typically, it looks something like: Use your rescue inhaler once, then wait 15 minutes and check your symptoms . If they havent improved, take another two puffs of your rescue inhaler. Check levels and symptoms again in 15 minutes. If they arent better, call your doctor.

If your symptoms are severe like its really hard to breathe or speak head to the hospital, Dr. Sporter advises.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Asthma

Wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath are among the most common asthma symptoms. In severe flare-ups, you may also feel tightness in your chest.

Unlike other respiratory conditions, asthma symptoms tend to flare up when youre exposed to triggers, such as:

  • allergens that irritate the airways and cause inflammation
  • exercise that can put stress on the airways and lead to inflammation
  • cold weather conditions that constrict the airways

Symptoms also tend to get worse when youre trying to sleep at night.

Asthma refers to airway constriction and inflammation, but there are also different subtypes to consider.

What To Do For An Asthma Attack When An Inhaler Is Not Available

Severe asthma attacks can be terrifying. What if you dont have access to a quick-relief inhaler? While having a quick-relief inhaler for an acute asthma attack is normally the first approach, when you dont have your inhaler, there are things you can do.

  • Sit upright this helps keep your airways open
  • Keep calm panicking can worsen your asthma symptoms
  • Regulate your breathing try to take slow deep breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth.
  • Avoid triggers if you know what triggered your symptoms, get away from it.
  • Seek emergency treatment if none of the above helps, call 9-1-1.
  • While you are waiting for help, you may have a family member bring you a cup of hot coffee. While coffee does not treat asthma attacks, it does have mild bronchodilator properties and may provide some temporary relief.

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    Early Warning Signs Vary But May Include: 3

    • Frequent cough, especially at night
    • Losing your breath easily or shortness of breath during the course of the day
    • Feeling very tired or weak when exercising
    • Wheezing or coughing after exercise
    • Feeling tired, easily upset, grouchy, or moody or being uncharacteristically irritable
    • Decreases or changes in your peak expiratory flow rate
    • Signs of a cold, upper respiratory infection, or allergies
    • Trouble sleeping

    This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, nor is it meant to apply to all our readers. These particular early signs tend to be the most common ones reported. Your own early warning signs will be unique to your individual asthma condition. If you are attuned to your own early warning signs, it can go a long way towards helping to maintain control over your asthma condition.

    If you have early warning signs or symptoms, you may be able to prevent the exacerbation or poor control by taking more asthma medication. This should all be described in your own individualized Asthma Action Plan.4


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