Can I Prevent Asthma Flare
You have the power to prevent flare-ups, at least some of the time. Here’s what you can do:
- Always have your inhaler with you.
- Stay away from triggers that you know may cause flare-ups. Try to avoid being around smokers â and don’t smoke yourself.
- If you use a long-term control medicine, follow your doctor’s instructions for taking it every day. Don’t skip it or take less because you feel OK.
- Work with your parents and doctor to follow your asthma action plan.
What Is An Asthma Flare
During an asthma flare-up, asthma symptoms get worse. You may have only one or two symptoms, or you might have several. Circadian rhythms can also alter hormone secretion, which is why some healthcare experts theorize that asthma gets worse at night in some people.
Another sign that youre experiencing an asthma flare-up is that your inhaler isnt working as well as it usually does. You might notice that you need to take more quick-relief asthma medication than usual.
Peak expiratory flow is the best way to assess the seriousness of asthma flare-up. With a peak flow meter, you can measure how well your lungs are functioning and monitor your asthma symptoms. In order for a peak flow meter to be useful during an asthma flare, you need to know what your recommended normal range is. Talk with your healthcare provider about how to determine this.
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
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Video: Signs That Your Asthma Is Getting Worse
Transcript for Signs that your asthma is getting worse
0:00 Asthma attacks rarely happen out of the blue.
0:03 They often take a few days to build up.
0:07 Asthma is different for everybody.
0:10 By learning how to recognise when your asthma symptoms are getting worse,
0:14 itll help you to stay in control.
0:18 So, signs that your asthma is getting worse are variable.
0:23 The most common sort of signs are you may feel some wheezing,
0:26 you may have a cough, you may find a tightness in your chest.
0:32 If you keep a peak flow diary, you may find that your peak flow scores are reducing a bit.
0:45 If your symptoms continue to be worse and youre using your blue inhaler a lot,
0:56 especially if youre not sure what to do next.
0:59 We can discuss whats been going on with you
1:01 and make a plan for a way forward.
1:05 If you are using your preventer inhaler as prescribed,
1:09 every day, even when youre well and using really good inhaler technique,
1:14 and despite this, your asthma symptoms are getting worse,
1:18 its a good idea to see your GP.
Adult action plan
Using an asthma action plan will help you to stay well. Download and fill in with your GP.
Eat To Beat Inflammation
No particular diet can prevent asthma symptoms, but eating healthy foods can help you feel better overall. If youre overweight, losing a few pounds will give your lungs more room to expand.
Also increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold-water fish like salmon and tuna, as well as in nuts and seeds. Theres some evidence these foods might help cut down on asthma symptoms.
If you have sensitivities or allergies to particular foods, try to avoid them. Allergic reactions to food can trigger asthma symptoms.
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How Do I Handle An Asthma Flare
If you feel like a flare-up is about to happen, stay calm. Let people around you know whats going on. Then remember your asthma action plan. Thats the written plan that tells you what to do next.
Stay calm and focus on what your asthma action plan says. Your doctor probably told you to use your quick-relief medicine, so do that first.
If you can figure out what triggered your symptoms , remove the trigger â or yourself â from the area. Sometimes thats all you need to get your asthma under control again.
If a flare-up is more severe, you might need to get help.
When To Call A Professional
- Difficulty breathing
Some children with asthma may not complain specifically of shortness of breath. However, they may flare their nostrils or use their chest and neck muscles when breathing. These are signs that they are having trouble.
If you already have been diagnosed with asthma, call your doctor if your symptoms:
- Are getting worse
- Are not being controlled by your regular medications
For example, call your doctor if you must use your rescue bronchodilator more than four times a day. Also call if your peak-flow-meter readings are in the yellow or red zones.
If you have an asthma attack and your symptoms persist despite your usual medications, seek emergency help immediately.
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Know The Asthma Symptoms In Children
Asthma affects as many as 10% to 12% of children in the United States and is the leading cause of chronic illness in children. For unknown reasons, the incidence of asthma in children is steadily increasing. While asthma symptoms can begin at any age, most children have their first asthma symptoms by age 5.
For more detail, see WebMDâs Asthma in Children.
Identifying An Asthma Cough
The purpose of a cough is to remove foreign particles and bacteria to prevent a possible infection. There are two types of coughs: productive and nonproductive. When a cough is productive, it means that a noticeable amount of phlegm expelled. This enables the lungs to get rid of harmful substances.
Coughing in people with asthma can be helpful because its one of the bodys natural defense mechanisms. A productive asthmatic cough will expel phlegm and mucus from the lungs. In most cases of asthma, the cough is considered nonproductive. A nonproductive cough is a dry cough. Its a response to an irritant that forces the bronchial tubes to spasm . Swelling and constriction of the airways, which prompts this type of nonproductive cough, characterize asthma.
An asthma cough is also often accompanied by wheezing. This is a high-pitched whistling sound caused by a constricted airway.
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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.
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.
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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Symptoms Of A Life Threatening Attack
The following signs and symptoms may indicate a life threatening situation:
- Anxiety or panic
- Grogginess, confusion, or difficulty talking
Asthma often progresses very slowly, but it may sometimes develop to a fatal or near-fatal attack within a few minutes. It is very difficult to predict when an attack will become very serious. Any symptoms that suggest a serious attack should be immediately treated with a rescue bronchodilator. If symptoms persist, call for emergency help.
Symptoms Of An Asthma Attack
Signs that you may be having an asthma attack include:
- your symptoms are getting worse
- your reliever inhaler is not helping
- you’re too breathless to speak, eat or sleep
- your breathing is getting faster and it feels like you cannot catch your breath
- your peak flow score is lower than normal
- children may also complain of a tummy or chest ache
The symptoms will not necessarily occur suddenly. In fact, they often come on slowly over a few hours or days.
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How Long Does It Take To Recover From A Severe Asthma Attack
The amount of time required to recover from a severe asthma attack is highly variable among people. Studies show that people who have other underlying health conditions tend to take longer to recover. One study suggests an average recovery time of 1.7 weeks.
Some individuals require supplemental oxygen after a severe asthma attack. Blood oxygen levels can be measured using a saturation monitor, and if your levels are below 90% , you will need extra oxygen.
In addition to supplemental oxygen, a wide variety of medications may be used to decrease inflammation in the bronchioles and open the airways. These include inhaled or oral corticosteroids, such as Qvar , Flovent HFA , EntocortEC , and Asmanex .
Asthma Attack Causes And Symptoms
Asthma affects about 235m people worldwide, including both adults and children. The symptoms of asthma can be well controlled by regular medications and lifestyle choices, but sometimes an Asthma Attack occurs where the symptoms suddenly get worse.
Read on to discover the facts about asthma attacks, what causes them, the symptoms to look out for and common asthma attack triggers.
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What Are The Complications Of Asthma
Poorly-controlled asthma can have a negative effect on your quality of life. Complications may include:
- being less productive at work or while studying
- an inability to exercise and be physically active
- reduced lung function
- poor mental health
Taking your medications exactly as prescribed is important. If you feel that your asthma is affecting your quality of life, contact your doctor for a medicines review.
How Do You Stop An Asthma Attack Without An Inhaler
If you are diagnosed with asthma, you should make sure you have an inhaler with you at all times. However, if a worst case scenario occurs and you experience when you dont have a reliever inhaler with you, there are practical steps you can take to ease your symptoms.
- Stay as calm as you can find a way to reduce any anxiety, such as holding someones hand or playing music
- Sit upright this will help keep your airways open
- Breathe slowly and deeply slowing down your breathing can reduce the risk of hyperventilating
- If something appears to have triggered your asthma, such as breathing in cold air or being exposed to smoke, move away from the trigger
- Try breathing exercises the pursed lip breathing technique can help you deal with shortness of breath
- Have a drink containing caffeine there is some evidence to suggest that caffeine can help improve airway function for up to four hours.
Asthma can be a life-threatening condition, so at the very least, aim to keep a spare reliever inhaler in your handbag, locker at work or coat pocket.
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Who’s More Likely To Require A Hospital Stay
Depending on your individual circumstances, it can take days to weeks to recover from a severe asthma attack.
At this time, your healthcare provider is likely to perform pulmonary function tests to see how well your lungs are responding. A lower reading of FEV1 is associated with a longer recovery time.
People who need higher levels of supplemental oxygen tend to be hospitalized for longer periods of time. You will likely need to be weaned off of oxygen before you are discharged home.
Other factors that may require a longer hospitalization include:
- Chronic health conditions, such as poor underlying lung function, COPD , obesity, sleep apnea, chronic smoking, or heart conditions
- Not adhering to your asthma medications
- If you have a viral infection that triggered the attack, such as RSV or the flu
What Happens During An Asthma Flare
During a flare-up, you might have:
- trouble breathing
- a whistling sound when you breathe
Flare-ups happen when the airways in the lungs get more irritated and swollen than usual. Your lungs might make a sticky mucus, which clogs the airways. The muscles around the airways will also tighten up, making them really narrow. This clogging and narrowing make it tough to pull air in and push air out.
Some flare-ups are mild, but others are serious. If the flare-up is severe, a person might:
- struggle to breathe or have fast breathing even when sitting still
- not be able to speak more than a few words at a time without pausing
- have retractions while breathing in
Flare-ups can happen suddenly. They also can build up over time, especially if you havent been taking your asthma medicine.
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How Do You Calm An Asthma Flare Up
When having an asthma attack, its important that you sit up straight and remain as calm as possible. Do not lie down, as this can further inhibit your breathing. If you have a rescue inhaler, take one puff every 30 to 60 seconds, with a maximum of 10 puffs.
Some other techniques to help calm an asthma flare up are breathing exercises:
Pursed lip breathing
- Breathing in through the nose and out through pursed lips
- Breathing in through the nose with the hands placed on the belly, and out through the nose.
Can An Asthma Flare
Yes, it can last weeks. If a patient has infrequent flare-ups, the symptoms will continue for weeks. This is because the body can only produce a certain amount of medicine to counteract the inflammation. If the medicine is not in the body, the patient will continue to experience symptoms until the medicine is replenished..
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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 Long Does An Asthma Flare Up Last
The duration of an asthma attack depends on various factors, like the cause of the reaction, the type of asthma, and how long the airways have been inflamed. Some mild asthma attacks can last only a few minutes and will resolve without medication. More severe attacks can last for hours or even days, and will likely need to be treated with medication administered by a doctor.
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Ruling Out Other Conditions
Many other health conditions have symptoms similar to asthma:
- Asthma and chronic obstructive lung diseases affect the lungs in similar ways and both may be present in the same person. Unlike other chronic lung conditions, asthma usually first appears in patients younger than age 30 and with chest x-rays that are normal.
- Panic or anxiety disorder can coincide with asthma or be confused with it.
- Other conditions that must be considered during diagnosis are pneumonia, aspirin sensitivity, severe allergic reactions, pulmonary embolism, other lung obstructions, cancer, heart failure, tumors, psychosomatic illnesses, sarcoid, and certain rare disorders such as cystic fibrosis.