What To Do When Having An Asthma Attack
If you have asthma, then its important that you know what to do and not do if you have an asthma attack.
Its hard to predict exactly when an asthma attack will occur, so its also important to discuss your condition with your family, friends and employer. Its essential that they all become better acquainted with what happens and how to react and help if you have an asthma attack.
How Asthma Is Treated
While there is no cure for asthma, there are a number of treatments that can help control the condition.
Treatment is based on two important goals, which are:
- relieving symptoms;
- preventing future symptoms and attacks
For most people, this will involve the occasional or, more commonly, daily use of medications, usually taken using an inhaler. However, identifying and avoiding possible triggers is also important.
You should have a personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor or nurse that includes information about the medicines you need to take, how to recognise when your symptoms are getting worse, and what steps to take when they do so.
These symptoms are often worse at night and early in the morning, particularly if the condition is not well controlled. They may also develop or become worse in response to a certain trigger, such as exercise or exposure to an allergen.
Read our page on the;causes of asthma for more information about potential triggers.
Speak to your GP if you think you or your child may have asthma. You should also talk to your doctor or asthma nurse if you have been diagnosed with asthma and you are finding it difficult to control the symptoms.
Asthma And Allergies Tend To Run In Families
If theres asthma, eczema, hay fever or other allergies in your family it makes asthma more likely.
If you have asthma yourself, your child is much more likely to have asthma too, particularly if both parents have asthma. Theres slightly more chance of asthma being passed on by the mother than the father.
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Things To Know About Albuterol
In serious cases, taking albuterol could cause your airways to tighten suddenly. This is called a bronchospasm and can make breathing difficult. This side effect happens immediately after using the inhaler. It can occur the first time you use a new canister. If this happens to you,call your doctor, and use a different asthma treatment.1-3
People withheart problemsshould be cautious about taking albuterol. Albuterol can cause changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and other heart disease symptoms. These effects are rare with the recommended dose of albuterol. Albuterol may also worsen conditions like thyroid problems, seizures, diabetes, or low potassium levels.1-3
Overusing your albuterol inhaler can worsen your asthma. Studies show that taking albuterol regularly can lead to worselung functionandasthma control. Albuterol is meant to provide occasional quick relief of symptoms, not long-term control. Using albuterol more than 2 days per week is a sign of poor asthma control. If you find yourself using albuterol often, consider discussing your asthma control options with your doctor.6
Before starting albuterol, tell your doctor about any prescription medicines, vitamins, supplements, or over-the-counter drugs you are taking. Certain medicines affect the way albuterol works, including other asthma drugs, other inhaled medicines,beta-blockers, diuretics, digoxin, monoamine oxidase inhibitors , and tricyclic antidepressants .1-3
How To Tell You Have Asthma
Asthma is a complex disease to diagnose, and only a healthcare professional is able to make a proper diagnosis.
If you are concerned that you may have asthma, contact your healthcare provider. In order to confirm an asthma diagnosis, your healthcare provider will take into account your medical and family history, allergies, and conduct lung function testing such as spirometry.
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What Are The Symptoms
Asthma can be different for everyone. Asthma symptoms can also vary over time, with few or no symptoms when asthma is well controlled. The common signs and symptoms of poorly controlled asthma include:
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble sleeping because of breathing difficulty
- Being unable to take part in physical activities without breathing difficulty
These symptoms can occur slowly over hours or days, or they can come on as sudden, recurring attacks after which the symptoms can persist for some time before disappearing. If left untreated, asthma can cause permanent structural changes in your airways called airway remodelling, which is why it is important to get your asthma under control and keep treating it over the long term.
Asthma Signs & Symptoms
People with asthma experience symptoms due to inflammation in the airways. They might only occur when you encounter an asthma trigger. Common symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis of asthma include:
- Persistent or recurring coughing: which often occurs at night or early in the morning, although it can happen at any time. Coughing is a major feature of asthma, especially in children and can sometimes be the only sign of asthma.
- Wheezing: is difficulty breathing accompanied by a whistling sound coming from your airways
- Shortness of breath: gives you the feeling that you cant get enough air into your lungs, and may even find it difficult to eat, sleep or speak
- Chest tightness: an unpleasant sensation of heaviness or pressure in the chest that can make it hard to breathe
- Increased mucus production: is characterized by high levels of thick fluid or phlegm accumulating in your airways
- Difficulty breathing while exercising: having trouble breathing while performing physical activities can be a sign of asthma
- Losing Sleep: Being unable to sleep through the night because of breathing troubles
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What Does Control Of Asthma Mean
- The ability to deal with acute exacerbations of asthma so that the need for urgent medical care is prevented
- Prevention of hospitalization for asthma
- Tolerating all normal activities up to and including competitive athletics if otherwise able
- The avoidance of symptoms that interfere with sleep.
- Normal pulmonary physiology .
- These goals should be reached safely and with the least interference with a normal life-style. The risks and bother of the treatment must be carefully weighed against the risk and bother of the asthma. The benefit obtained from the treatment must be worth any inconvenience and potential medication risks imposed by the treatment.
In other words, it is the goal of treatment to determine the simplest, safest therapeutic measures that minimize disability, normalize lung function, avoid the need for acute medical care of asthma, and permit a normal life.
What Do The Two Types Have In Common
Exact causes of asthma can be difficult to pinpoint. Allergies and triggers in the environment can cause asthma symptoms and an asthma flare-up, and genetics can also play a role. But the exact reasons why people develop asthma remain unclear.
Childhood asthma and adult-onset asthma share many of the same triggers. For all people with asthma, exposure to one of the following triggers may cause an asthma attack, though different people have different triggers:
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What Are The Triggers
There are many different triggers for asthma attacks. Many asthmatics are well aware of their trigger points. However, they may not always be able to avoid them.
Pollen and pollution are increasingly responsible for triggering asthma. Many people find a worsening of their symptoms in Spring, combined with the onset of hay fever. There are many species of grasses, trees and weeds in the UK. Some people are particularly sensitive to some and do not react at all to others. There is also huge variation around the country as to when pollen is released. People can begin to suffer from hay fever as early as January. About 20% of people with hay fever are allergic to birch tree pollen and this, as well as oak and plane trees, are responsible for many unpleasant symptoms and can exacerbate asthma.
Grass pollens are the most common cause of hay fever and usually affect people in May, June and July.
Weed pollens usually release pollen from early spring to early autumn.
If you know pollen is a trigger for your asthma, speak to your GP or asthma nurse.
The Met Office issues really useful pollen advice.
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in the chest
- Often people find it particularly difficult to breathe out and have an increase in sticky mucus and phlegm
Its important to note that not everyone will get all of these symptoms.
If Your Asthma Symptoms Are Caused By Allergies Take Steps To Control Knownor Potential Triggers In Your Environment
Allergy-proof your house for dust, mold, cockroaches, and other common indoor allergens to which you are allergic.
;Reduce your outdoor activities when the pollen count or ozone level is high.
;Choose foods that dont contribute to your asthma or allergy symptoms.
;Evaluate your workplace for possible allergens and take the necessary steps to reduce your exposure to them.
In order to determine relevant triggers, you may want to seek consultation with an allergist who can further define these triggers.
In addition, anyone with asthma should consider getting an annual flu shot. Older adults also should talk with their internist about getting a pneumonia vaccination.
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What Is The Best Way To Live With Asthma
The key to good living with asthma is developing a strong partnership between patients, caregivers, and physicians. Practical steps include the following:
;; Make an asthma care management plan with your physician. An asthma management plan helps you understand what to do when specific situations arise. Each time you visit the physician, talk about your plan, and make any necessary changes.
;; Educate yourself. Stay informed about the latest developments in asthma and allergy care and treatment. Ask your physician about new medications or research findings that may relate to your care.
;; Get regular medical care. If you have asthma, you should see your physician at least once a year, even if your symptoms are under control. When you become sick, or if you have significant changes in your health, you should also talk with your physician about how your asthma could be affected.
;; Take your medicine. Your asthma medications will make you feel better and sometimes people think thats the time to stop. Its not! Use your medications as prescribed.
With good management, asthma symptoms can be controlled. Most people who develop adult onset asthma are able to lead normal lives. Expect success!
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, AAFA’s 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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Physical Effects Of Asthma On People
Chronic Cough from Asthma
Asthma patients often suffer from a cough that lingers on even when no particular respiratory disease exists. This cough typically grows in severity when an asthmatic is plagued with other diseases affecting his or her respiratory system. Itâs very common to see asthmatics taking sick leaves frequently from work due to weakness. Asthma attacks can also be triggered from respiratory infections.
Reduced Capacity for Physical Exertion
Asthma patients often have a reduced capacity for activities requiring physical exertion. In fact, strenuous exercises can even bring along an asthma attack in some cases. When an asthma attack takes place, there can be severe compromise on breathing. The patientâs diminished capacity for engagement in physical work can get worse if not treated.
If left unchecked with no regular visits to a doctor, an asthma patientâs breathing capacity can progressively get worse over time. In the most severe cases, impairment of breathing can go to the extent where it is impossible to respire without ventilators.
Deprivation of Sleep
Lack of sleep and disruption of regular sleeping patterns is another effect of asthma on people, especially when an asthma attack is actually taking place. In spit of inhalers being used to relieve symptoms, it can significantly reduce the patientâs ability to fall asleep. Asthma symptoms making sleeping difficult, and severe symptoms might even require hospitalization.
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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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.
What To Do In An Asthma Attack:
1. Sit up straight
2. Take your reliever medication as directed. Use your Asthma Action Plan for reference.
3. Call 911 if your symptoms persist or worsen. Do this if you feel worse at any point or if there is no improvement after taking your medication.
4. Follow-up with your doctor or healthcare provider
An asthma attack can be a life-threatening emergency thats why you should always carry your reliever inhaler with you and never hesitate to call 911 if your symptoms persist.
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Emotional Effect Of Asthma On People
Asthma can also affect an individual emotionally. It can cause embarrassment and stress when an asthma attack suddenly comes on in a public location. The typical result of the emotional effect is an aggravation of symptoms in such situations.
In fact, certain asthma medications can have side effects that creat an uneasy and nervous sensation. Asthmatic children tend to miss school more often than their peers. This causes them to have more work to catch up on, and feel different from the others. Also, dince physical activity is known to aggravate asthma symptoms, patients might avoid sports and other new adventures with the mental fear of asthma attacks being triggered.
When one tries to understand how does asthma affect people emotionally and how they can help the asthmatic to ease their fear of trying out new things, treatment of the mental status can begin.
What Causes An Asthma Attack
An asthma attack can happen when you are exposed to asthma triggers. Your asthma triggers can be very different from someone elses asthma triggers. Know your triggers and learn how to avoid them. Watch out for an attack when you cant avoid your triggers. Some of the most common triggers are tobacco smoke, dust mites, outdoor air pollution, cockroach allergen, pets, mold, smoke from burning wood or grass, and infections like flu.
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