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How Do I Know If I’m Having An Asthma Attack

Having An Asthma Action Plan

Early Warning Signs of an Asthma Attack

You and your doctor will also put together an asthma action plan. This is a personalised set of instructions that includes a list of your usual asthma medications and doses, guidance on what to do in different situations , and your doctors contact details.

About Dr Cicily Stanton

Dr. Cicily Stanton is a Family Medicine Physician at Florida Medical Clinic. As an asthmatic herself, Dr. Stanton is uniquely aware of the challenges this condition can bring. She uses her experience to help her patients find long-term relief.

From asthma control to chronic disease management, womens health, and more, Dr. Stantons goal is to help every patient live their healthiest and happiest life.

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to substitute professional medical advice. Always talk with your doctor before starting or stopping medications or treatments.

How Do I Open My Airways

If you have asthma, the best way to keep your airways open is to use your asthma medications as directed by your doctor. These medications can open your airways using a variety of mechanisms, including relaxing airway muscles or reducing inflammation.

Long-term control medications can help prevent the airways from narrowing and leading to asthma symptoms. When asthma symptoms do occur, quick-relief medications like your rescue inhaler can help to quickly open your airways.

In addition to using your asthma medications as directed, some other things that may help to open your airways include practicing breathing exercises or trying steam inhalation.

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Food And Food Additives Trigger Asthma

Food allergies can cause mild to severe life-threatening reactions. They rarely cause asthma without other symptoms. If you have food allergies, asthma can be part of a severe, life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. The most common foods associated with allergic symptoms are:

Food preservatives can trigger isolated asthma, especially sulfite additives, like sodium bisulfite, potassium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, and sodium sulfite, which are commonly used in food processing or preparation.

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It
  • Don’t have written asthma action plan from your doctor
  • Use an inhaler, but don’t have a spacer
  • Miss more than 1 day of school per month for asthma
  • Asthma limits exercise or sports
  • Asthma attacks wake child up from sleep
  • Use more than 1 inhaler per month
  • No asthma check-up in more than 1 year
  • You have other questions or concerns

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Explaining Your Symptoms To Your Gp

Its a good idea to start a diary of your symptoms before speaking to your GP. Taking note of when symptoms flare-up may help you to understand your triggers. This diary will then help your GP to understand and properly assess your condition. You could also try filming your symptoms if they are hard to describe.

There are several different tests for asthma – so your GP wont be able to diagnose you straightaway. Our advice on diagnosing asthma explains this process in more detail.

When Is It Serious

To help you know when you need medical attention, use a peak flow meter every day so you know how much air typically flows out of your lungs. People with asthma have a lower air flow in and out of their lungs. By tracking your peak flow levels regularly, you can spot problems early before you experience annoying or dangerous symptoms. A meter will also tell you and your doctor how serious your asthma attacks are. That way youll know when to take medicine or seek emergency care. And peak flow readings can also help you pinpoint your asthma triggers.

Some signs that your asthma is worse:

Call your doctor or 911 if you experience extreme symptoms like blue lips or fingernails, or severe trouble breathing.

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.

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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.

How Painful Is An Asthma Attack

How Do I Prevent and Treat an Asthma Attack?

If you have asthma, a respiratory condition that causes breathing difficulties, you might experience chest pain. This symptom is common right before or during an asthma attack. The discomfort may feel like a dull ache or a sharp, stabbing pain. Some describe it as if they have a heavy brick sitting on their chest.

What is silent chest in asthma?

As your lungs continue to tighten during the asthma attack, you may be unable to use the peak flow meter at all. Gradually, your lungs may tighten so much during the asthma attack that there is not enough air movement to produce wheezing. This is sometimes called the silent chest, and it is a dangerous sign.

What should I do if my chest hurts with asthma?

Whether you have been diagnosed with asthma or not, it is important that you get medical help for your chest tightness. Consider going to an emergency room if: The discomfort is severe. You have associated chest pain, tachypnea , nausea, sweating, dizziness, or fainting.

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Uncontrolled Asthma Vs Severe Asthma: How To Get The Right Diagnosis

  • Lung Health and Diseases

More than 25 million Americans struggle with asthma, a chronic condition that makes breathing difficult. Whether you have lived with asthma since childhood or developed it later in life, it is important to monitor your symptoms and avoid your triggers to manage the disease. Many times, regular flare-ups can be treated with a combination of quick-relief and controller medications. Unfortunately, this may not be enough to get your symptoms under control.

If you feel asthma is interfering with your life, it can be frustrating to know what to do next. This is when it may be time to talk to your doctor about the possibility of severe asthma.

Daily symptoms, such as chest tightness, shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing, are signs of uncontrolled asthma and may require the use of quick-relief medication a few times a week or even daily. In addition, you may commonly experience nighttime flare-ups and may even have to visit the emergency room. As you might expect, with these symptoms you may miss work, stop exercising, and have difficulty performing daily tasks. If you have signs of uncontrolled asthma as listed above, you will want to discuss this with you physician because you may be able to find a solution.

But what if you continue to struggle?

Think you may have severe asthma? Take our Asthma Control Assessment, to help identify if your asthma is uncontrolled and access a downloadable summary to take with you to your next doctors appointment.

What Should I Do Im Having An Asthma Attack

Asthma Attack Without an Inhaler: 5 Things to Do Now Sit up straight. Sitting upright can help keep your airways open. Remain calm. Try to remain as calm as you can while youre having an asthma attack. Steady your breathing. Try to take slow, steady breaths during your attack. Move away from triggers. Call 911.

What happens if you get an asthma attack?

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the lungs. During an asthma attack, the airways become narrower than normal and can cause difficulty breathing . The severity of an asthma attack can range from mild to very serious. Some asthma attacks may require prompt medical attention.

What do you do during an asthma attack?

Try to take slow, steady breaths during your attack. Additionally, some breathing exercises may also help reduce asthma symptoms. Some examples include: the Buteyko breathing technique, which involves breathing slowly through your nose as opposed to your mouth.

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What To Do If You Are Having An Asthma Attack

If someone is having a mild asthma attack, they may be able to treat it with asthma medication, such as a quick-acting inhaler. Some mild asthma attacks may even resolve on their own.

It is important that people with asthma talk with their healthcare team about an asthma action plan. This is a plan that guides people through how to treat their asthma, depending on the symptoms they are experiencing, and what to do in case of an asthma attack.

A person will need to carry a reliever inhaler with them, which may contain asthma medication to relax the muscles around the airways. These medications include short-acting, rapid onset beta-2 agonist and anticholinergic bronchodilators.

A person can first try dealing with an asthma attack by:

  • using quick-relief medications, usually through a blue inhaler, and following their asthma action plan

In the case of a severe asthma attack, it is essential to seek medical help or call 911 immediately. While waiting for help, a person should continue to take their inhaler medication as the manufacturer outlines.

After an asthma attack, regardless of whether medical help was necessary, the following steps are important:

According to the American Lung Association, people will need to see their doctor at least once a year if they have asthma and more frequently if they have symptoms.

A person should contact their doctor straight away if they:

Anyone who experiences any of the following needs emergency medical help:

Other Reasons For Cough And Wheeze In Children

Your Kid Has Asthma: What The School Nurse Needs You to Know.

Colds and viruses

Children can have as many as eight colds in a year. Their immune system is still developing and colds often bring coughs along with them. This is because when your child has a cold, mucus can run down into their throat and coughing is a way to clear it.

Most coughs due to colds and viruses are not serious and clear up within about three weeks. But see your childs GP if the cough goes on for longer, your child has long coughing bouts several times a day, or they vomit when they cough.

Viral wheeze

The most common reason why children wheeze is colds and viruses. GPs call this viral wheeze.

As long as your child is not distressed or struggling for breath, this is usually nothing to worry about. It should stop in two to three days once your childs fought off the virus.

But if your childs not sleeping well, theyre off their food and drink, or they seem irritable, call your childs GP and ask for a same day appointment.

Croup

Croup is a viral infection of the larynx which causes a distinctive barking cough and a harsh, grating sound on breathing in . Your child may also wheeze.

Babies and toddlers are more likely than older children to get respiratory infections like croup.

Bronchiolitis

Bronchiolitis is caused by a virus that makes the airways in the lungs swell and narrow which is why your child will cough and wheeze. Theyll also need to make more effort to breathe.

Hay fever

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Also Check: How To Diagnose Childhood Asthma

When To See A Specialist About Your Asthma

Asthma is not always easy to diagnose, Fineman says, but you should see your doctor if youre having repeated episodes of wheezing and coughing or shortness of breath. If you’re diagnosed with the condition, work with your doctor to develop an asthma management and action plan.

Although your primary care doctor may be able to diagnose and treat your asthma, if your symptoms dont respond to a first-line therapy of inhaled corticosteroids and short-acting bronchodilators, Asciuto recommends that you see a lung specialist or allergy and asthma specialist.

Create An Asthma Action Plan

For anyone who has asthma, an asthma action plan is essential for preventing symptoms that can progress to a full-on asthma attack. This is a written document you and your asthma doctor will develop together based on your asthma triggers, usual symptoms, peak flow readings, and what you should do at different stages of progressively worsening symptoms.

A typical asthma action plan uses the color coding of a traffic light and is divided into three zones.

Green Your asthma is under control, your peak flow readings are within your healthy range, and you feel well.
Yellow Your symptoms are worsening and/or your peak flow readings are declining.
Red Your symptoms are dangerously severe and you should get emergency help right away.

In terms of prevention, the action plan will identify all of your known triggers and ways to avoid them. It also will list your medications and how you should be taking them.

Recommended Reading: How Many People Have Asthma In The Usa

Also Check: What Is Well Controlled Asthma

What Other Tools Can I Use For Monitoring Asthma Control

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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How To Know If You Have Asthma

Recognizing an Asthma Attack in Your Child

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.

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What To Do For Asthma Attacks When You Dont Have An Inhaler

Here are some home remedies to manage an asthma attack without an inhaler.

Sit upright

Sitting up straight helps to open up your airways. Bending or lying down can constrict your airways even further and worsen your asthma symptoms.

Practice deep breathing

Take long, slow, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Try to prevent hyperventilation with short, fast breaths. Learn some breathing exercises. These exercises can make breathing easier and help reduce breath tightness and other asthma symptoms. Examples include pursed lips breathing, belly breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, and yoga breathing.

Try to stay calm

Anxiety can cause chest tightness and make it even harder for you to breathe. Try to remain as calm as possible during an asthma attack. Of course, this is easier said than done when youre gasping for air. It may help to play some music or distract yourself by watching TV while waiting for the asthma attack to subside or for medical help to arrive.

Remove yourself from asthma triggers

Common triggers of asthma attacks include pet dander, cigarette smoke, air pollution, and cold weather. These triggers can not only cause an asthma attack but also make your symptoms worse. If possible, avoid triggers and remove yourself from a trigger when youre having an attack. Move to an area with clean air, preferably an air-conditioned environment, during an asthma attack.

Drink a warm, caffeinated beverage

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.

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