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How Does An Asthma Attack Work

What To Expect From Your Doctor

How does asthma work? – Christopher E. Gaw

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

  • Have you noticed anything that makes your asthma worse?
  • What medications are you taking?
  • How and when are you taking them?
  • Can you show me how you use your inhaled medication?
  • Are you having any problems with your medications?
  • Do you know when to call me or go to the hospital?
  • Do you have any questions about your asthma action plan?
  • Are you having any problems with your asthma action plan?
  • Is there anything you want to be able to do that you can’t because of your asthma?

How Smoking Affects The Alveoli

Smoking is an important risk factor for lung disease. Tobacco smoke affects the respiratory tract at every level. This includes the alveoli.

Cigarette smoke affects how the alveoli work. Smoke causes damage down to the molecular level. It disrupts your bodys ability to repair itself after an infection or trauma. If exposure to smoke continues, alveolar damage continues to worsen.

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Can Asthma Be Prevented

Asthma cant be prevented entirely, but there are some practical ways to reduce the risk of an asthma attack and live well with asthma.

  • Get vaccinated for influenza: flu and other respiratory viruses are common triggers for asthma.
  • Manage any allergies: asthma and allergies are closely linked, so treating allergic rhinitis and avoiding or managing any allergy triggers will help with your asthma.
  • Live smoke-free: quit smoking if you smoke, and avoid any second-hand smoke .
  • Eat well: a balanced diet helps you to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese makes asthma harder to manage.
  • Care for yourself: mental health and asthma are linked, so let a trusted friend or your doctor know if you have been feeling sad or anxious, or dont enjoy things as much as before.
  • See your doctor regularly: asthma needs to be regularly assessed and managed, and your medication needs may change over time. Ensure your asthma action plan is up to date by checking in with your doctor regularly.

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What Does Asthma Do To The Body

You already know that the muscles in your lungs tighten during an asthma episode. The bronchial tubes may become swollen or otherwise irritated. What else does asthma do to the body? Thats a great question.

According to American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, asthma causes a semi-permanent inflammation in the lungs airways. That means your airways are swollen and red. Theyre characterized as being in a hypersensitive state that can be irritated by any small trigger. Some of these triggers, outlined in Asthma Attacks: Triggers and Treatments, include pet dander, smoke, chemicals, dust, cold or warm weather, pollen, stress, and illness.

Unfortunately, its very normal for someone to be scared or fatigued after suffering an asthma attack. Even seconds of this frightening breathlessness can feel like hours, and your body needs time to recover from the shock of what happened.

Thats why you will have to take care of yourself in the days following an asthma attack. Your lungs are in a weakened state, which makes you more susceptible to a second or third attack. This risk is high over several days, so keep your asthma care a high priority.

How Long Do Asthma Attacks Last

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There is no set time for how long an asthma attack lasts. As a guideline, you might only have a mild asthma attack for a matter of minutes before you manage to get your symptoms under control and they begin to ease off.

If you have severe asthma, an asthma attack can last longer, from hours to days. Severe asthma is harder to get under control and often doesnt respond in the same way to medications as mild asthma. A severe asthma attack is a medical emergency and you need to call for help for emergency help straight away.

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How Can I Prevent Asthma Flare

Asthma flare-ups can be handled, but it’s even better if you can prevent them from happening. To do that:

  • Take asthma medicines as directed. If your doctor prescribed a long-term control medicine, take it each day, even when you feel fine. It needs to be taken exactly as your doctor tells you to keep protecting you against flare-ups.
  • Get a flu shot each year before flu season starts.
  • Avoid triggers. By knowing and avoiding your triggers, you might be able to prevent some flare-ups.

It’s important to plan ahead and know what to do. Work with your doctor to build and update your asthma action plan. That way, you know what to do if a flare-up happens and you’re in control if things get serious.

What Are The Signs Of An Asthma Flare

Asthma flare-ups can vary in strength and length. They can happen without warning, causing sudden coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing.

Flare-ups should be treated right away. So it’s important to know their early warning signs, including:

  • restless sleep or coughing that prevents sleep
  • mild chest tightness or wheezing

If the flare-up is severe, a kid might:

  • struggle to breathe or have fast breathing even when sitting still
  • be unable to speak more than a few words at a time without pausing
  • have retractions while breathing in

Because they can be life-threatening, flare-ups demand attention. Your child might need to take quick-relief medicine , visit the doctor, or even go to the hospital.

Following the instructions in your child’s asthma action plan can help you know what to do when a flare-up happens.

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Medical History And Physical Exam

Your doctor will ask about your risk factors for asthma and your symptoms. They may ask also about any known allergies. This includes how often symptoms occur, what seems to trigger your symptoms, when or where symptoms occur, and if your symptoms wake you up at night.

During the physical exam, your doctor may:

  • Listen to your breathing and look for symptoms of asthma
  • Look for allergic skin conditions, such as eczema

Symptoms After An Asthma Attack

How does asthma work?And How do you treat asthma?

How you feel after an asthma attack will depend on how severe the attack was and what triggered it.

If the attack was triggered by an irritant, such as cold weather, pollutants or allergens such as pollen, animal fur or dust, you should recover relatively quickly.

If your asthma attack was caused by an infection, such an upper airway infection, then it might take longer for you to recover. You may have symptoms such as fatigue and exhaustion after your asthma attack.

Do follow any recovery guidance given to you by a doctor or medical professional. Rest, drink plenty of fluids, take your medication and attend any necessary follow-up appointments.

If you havent seen your doctor or asthma nurse for a routine appointment recently, book one as soon as possible.

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How Is Asthma Treated

Take your medicine exactly as your doctor tells you and stay away from things that can trigger an attack to control your asthma.

Everyone with asthma does not take the same medicine.

You can breathe in some medicines and take other medicines as a pill. Asthma medicines come in two typesquick-relief and long-term control. Quick-relief medicines control the symptoms of an asthma attack. If you need to use your quick-relief medicines more and more, visit your doctor to see if you need a different medicine. Long-term control medicines help you have fewer and milder attacks, but they dont help you while you are having an asthma attack.

Asthma medicines can have side effects, but most side effects are mild and soon go away. Ask your doctor about the side effects of your medicines.

Remember you can control your asthma. With your doctors help, make your own asthma action plan. Decide who should have a copy of your plan and where he or she should keep it. Take your long-term control medicine even when you dont have symptoms.

Common Terms Found In Medical Record Related To Asthma:

Asthma exacerbation: It is nothing but an acute increase of symptoms in a person with asthma. This can be coded only with the Physician diagnosis.

Status asthmatics : Another term for this is severe asthma exacerbation. It is considered as severe as this may lead to even respiratory failure due to hypoxemia. As soon as a patient comes to emergency room with asthma symptoms, physician treats initially with medicines such as bronchodilators. If patient has status asthmatics they do not respond to these medicines.

Inhaler : Medicine filled inhalers are given to patient to use comfortably at any place when symptoms occurs suddenly.

Nebulizer : Electricity powered machine filled with liquid medication which turns to mist and the patient breath in.

Nasal spray : A bottle with liquid medicine made with the ease of spraying to nose.

PFT : Pulmonary Function Test, use to check the lung function by measuring lung volume, capacity, rates of flow and gas exchange.

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How Does Asthma Work

Asthma is a lung-related disease that you have almost certainly heard of before. Its a long-term condition that affects the patients airways, i.e., the internal tubes that move air to and from the lungs.

Since asthma affects a patients breathing, the most common symptoms of asthma include shortness of breath, chest tightening, difficulty breathing, coughing and wheezing.

Shortness of breath is a very common symptom of asthma.

When an asthma patient comes in contact with one of the many asthma triggers , the airways react in three ways: the muscles wrapped around the airways contract, making the airways narrower than usual. The lining of the airways also begins to swell and becomes inflamed. Lastly, phlegm or sticky mucus starts to build up, which only worsens the condition.

These are the main reasons why an asthma attack can turn quite dangerous, and may even be fatal if not quickly remedied!

What Are The Symptoms Of Asthma

Asthma by Jack Boschee

The symptoms of asthma include

  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing, which causes a whistling sound when you breathe out

These symptoms can range from mild to severe. You may have them every day or only once in a while.

When you are having an asthma attack, your symptoms get much worse. The attacks may come on gradually or suddenly. Sometimes they can be life-threatening. They are more common in people who have severe asthma. If you are having asthma attacks, you may need a change in your treatment.

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What Is Normal Breathing

When most of us breathe, the muscles that are wrapped around the air tubes are very loose and relaxed, and the lining inside the airways is very thin. This lets the airways open up very wide so that it is easy to get air in and out of the small air sacs that make up our lungs. These small sacs are called alveoli . When air moves in and out of our lungs, we call it breathing.

The picture below shows what your lungs look like when everything is working normally. The muscles wrapped around the airways are very thin and loose, and the airway is wide open. This makes it easy to move air in and out of the air sacs.

The animation below shows normal breathing. As we breathe in, air that contains lots of oxygen is pulled into the lungs. This oxygen slowly moves from the lungs into the blood. Then air that contains carbon dioxide is pushed back out through the lungs as we breathe out. When things are working normally, the amount of air we breathe in is about the same as the amount of air we breathe out.

What lungs look like during normal breathing

When you are breathing normally, it takes about the same amount of time to breathe in as it does to breathe out .

During an asthma attack, it is harder and takes much longer to breathe out than to breathe in . Since it is so hard to breathe out during an asthma attack, more and more air gets trapped inside the lungs making it feel like you cant breathe in or out!

Physical Symptoms Of Asthma

Asthma symptoms and severity vary substantially from person to person. Most people with asthma do not have symptoms constantly. Bothersome asthma symptoms can mean that asthma is not controlled sufficiently or that an acute asthma episode may be starting. Common asthma symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Awakening in the night from coughing or wheezing

If you do not have asthma, you can help yourself imagine what it feels like to have an asthma episode:

  • Run in place for a minute or two, until you can feel your heart start to beat fast. Take a plastic drinking straw and put it in your mouth. Hold your nose closed and continue to breathe through the straw. OR
  • Take a deep breath in and hold it a moment. Now let out about a tenth of the air in your lungs. Breathe back in. Breathe out that same small amount of air. Breathe back in. Repeat until you cant stand it anymore.
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    The Normal Respiratory System

    To understand what happens in asthma you need to be familiar with the normal breathing system and how the lungs and airways are arranged.

    Normally, air entering through the mouth and nose travels through the main airway through a series of smaller branching airways called bronchi. The bronchi divide up into even smaller airways called bronchioles, which end in millions of tiny air sacs called alveoli.

    When air enters the alveoli, the oxygen it contains passes through the thin membrane covering each sac into surrounding blood vessels. The oxygen attaches itself to red blood cells which then circulate around the body, releasing the oxygen into the body tissues.

    What happens during an asthma attack?

    To Use Your Puffer With A Spacer:

    How To Help An Asthamtic Person **Asthma Attack At Work**
  • Shake the inhaler well before use
  • Remove the cap from your inhaler, and from your spacer, if it has one
  • Put the inhaler into the spacer
  • Breathe out, away from the spacer
  • Bring the spacer to your mouth, put the mouthpiece between your teeth and close your lips around it
  • Press the top of your inhaler once
  • Breathe in very slowly until you have taken a full breath. If you hear a whistle sound, you are breathing in too fast.
  • Hold your breath for about ten seconds, then breathe out.
  • If you need to take more than one puff at a time, wait a minimum of 30 seconds between puffs and be sure to shake the puffer before each puff. Only put one puff of medication into the spacer at a time.
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    Early Treatment For Workplace Asthma Is Crucial

    If you did not have asthma previously, and think you have developed asthma following exposure to substances in the workplace, it is important to seek medical advice for tests and an accurate diagnosis.

    Your doctor will confirm if you have asthma and if its associated with exposures at work, and identify the specific causative agent.

    People with workplace asthma should absolutely avoid repeated exposure.

    With your permission, your doctor could make contact with your employer to advise on protection for other workers.

    Bipoc Communities And Asthma

    The causes driving these disparities are multifactorial.

    Journal of Clinical Asthma and Immunology American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

    Poverty, exposure to pollution, and limited access to medical care play a big role in racial disparities in asthma, says Kenneth Mendez, AAFAs president and CEO.

    These factors are interrelated and intergenerational, he explains. Discriminatory housing policies, for example, have caused long-lasting residential segregation, in which poverty is concentrated in Black and Hispanic communities, which then perpetuates a cycle of limited access to education, employment, and quality healthcare services, he says. This residential segregation is also responsible for the disproportionate proximity of minority populations to sources of pollution, such as industrial centers, major roadways, oil and gas refineries, distribution hubs, and traffic-related pollution, which can put people at higher risk for asthma and having worse outcomes, Mendez explains.

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    What Is Good Asthma Care

    Your doctor or nurse will tailor your asthma treatment to your symptoms. Sometimes you may need to be on higher levels of medication than at others.

    You should be offered:

    • care at your GP surgery provided by doctors and nurses trained in asthma management
    • full information about your condition and how to control it
    • involvement in making decisions about your treatment
    • regular checks to ensure your asthma is under control and your treatment is right for you
    • a written personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor or nurse

    It is also important that your GP or pharmacist teaches you how to properly use your inhaler, as this is an important part of good asthma care.

    How Long Does Asthma Take To Develop

    7 Ways To Survive An Asthma Attack If You

    There is no fixed period of time in which asthma can develop. Asthma as a disease may develop from a few weeks to many years after the initial exposure. Analysis of the respiratory responses of sensitized workers has established three basic patterns of asthmatic attacks, as follows:

    Immediate â typically develops within minutes of exposure and is at its worst after approximately 20 minutes recovery takes about 2 hours.

    Late â can occur in different forms. It usually starts several hours after exposure and is at its worst after about 4 to 8 hours with recovery within 24 hours. However, it can start 1 hour after exposure with recovery in 3 to 4 hours. In some cases, it may start at night, with a tendency to recur at the same time for a few nights following a single exposure.

    Dual or Combined â is the occurrence of both immediate and late types of asthma.

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