How To Stop An Asthma Attack
Learning what to do in an asthma attack is particularly important for patients who have developed asthma recently as well as for caregivers who may not be sure of what they need to do. The first line of defense is working with your doctor to develop a management plan that includes medication and ways to help you avoid triggers to minimize the possibility of attacks. Your treatment plan will likely change over time as asthma often changes over time, so expect periodic adjustments to keep daily symptoms under control. Asthma that isnt well-controlled leads to regular attacks as lingering lung inflammation means you could have a flare-up at any time.
Can You Predict A Flare
You can predict some flare-ups, but it might take a bit of detective work.
Some flare-ups happen suddenly, after a person is exposed to a trigger like being around someone who is smoking. Flare-ups also happen when problems in the airways build up over time. That can happen when a persons asthma is not well controlled.
Flare-ups need to be treated at their earliest stages. So its important to know early warning signs .
Clues that a flare-up might happen are different for everyone. They might even be different with each asthma flare-up.
Early warning signs include:
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Common Asthma Attack Triggers
An asthma trigger is an irritant that causes the airways to become inflamed and constrict. Constriction of airways marks the start of an asthma attack and can cause other symptoms like wheezing.
There isnt one single trigger of asthma. What triggers an asthma attack for one person might not be the same for another. Youll know what causes an asthma attack for you if youre exposed to an irritant and have shortness of breath or start wheezing. The most common triggers are:
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What Are My Triggers
Most people are allergic to more than one trigger and sometimes the response is different, so you could get itchy eyes around cats but a runny nose during pollen season. The severity of the allergic reaction varies between people and depends on the circumstances. A reaction may not be immediate.
Sometimes it can be fairly obvious what triggers your asthma. If you have symptoms after coming in contact with cats or dogs then pets are probably one of your triggers. The same applies for contact with smoke from cigarettes or open fires.
Triggers like pollen can be more difficult to determine because the allergens are not visible. It is important to keep a diary of when you experience symptoms and note where you were at the time, what the weather conditions were like and what things you were exposed to including stress.
Signs That You Need To Use Asthma First Aid
If you are experiencing any of the following signs, start asthma first aid. Do not wait until asthma is severe.
Mild to moderate asthma signs :
- minor difficulty breathing
- able to talk in full sentences
- able to walk or move around
- may have a cough or wheeze.
Severe asthma signs for an ambulance and commence asthma first aid):
- obvious difficulty breathing
- cannot speak a full sentence in one breath
- tugging of the skin between ribs or at base of neck
- may have cough or wheeze
- reliever medication not lasting as long as usual.
Life-threatening asthma signs for an ambulance and commence asthma first aid):
- finds it very difficult to breathe
- unable to speak one to two words per breath
- confused or exhausted
- is getting little or no relief from their reliever inhaler
- may no longer have wheeze or cough.
In asthma emergencies, follow your Asthma Action Plan.
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What To Do If You Have An Asthma Attack
If you think youre having an asthma attack, you should:
Never be frightened of calling for help in an emergency.
Try to take the details of your medicines with you to hospital if possible.
If your symptoms improve and you do not need to call 999, get an urgent same-day appointment to see a GP or asthma nurse.
This advice is not for people on SMART or MART treatment. If this applies to you, ask a GP or asthma nurse what to do if you have an asthma attack.
What Are The Signs Of A Severe Asthma Attack
Asthma may lead to a medical emergency.
Rescue inhalers can help you: otc inhalers
Seek medical help immediately for:
- Fast breathing with chest retractions
- Cyanosis which is tissue color changes on mucus membranes and fingertips or nail beds – the color appears grayish or whitish on darker skin tones and bluish on lighter skin tones
- Rapid movement of nostrils
- Ribs or stomach moving in and out deeply and rapidly
- Expanded chest that does not deflate when you exhale
- Infants with asthma who fail to respond to or recognize parents
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Causes Of Asthma Flare
People with asthma have airways that are overly sensitive to certain things that normally dont bother those without asthma, and exposure to triggers can bring on asthma symptoms.
Common triggers include:
Many people with asthma also have allergies. In them, allergens the things that cause the allergic symptoms also can cause asthma flare-ups.
Left untreated, a flare-up can last for several hours or even several days. Quick-relief medicines often take care of the symptoms pretty quickly. A person should feel better once the flare-up ends, although it can take several days to completely go away.
So What Are The Symptoms You Should Watch Out For
Which signs of asthma you might experience differs from person to person and some are more common than others, Raymond Casciari, M.D., a pulmonologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California, tells SELF. Its possible that youll have such a mild reaction to one of your personal asthma triggers that you dont take much note of it. But if the effects get worse, they can turn into an asthma attack, which is a potentially life-threatening exacerbation of asthma symptoms. Thats why its so important to know the common signs of asthma, including the more subtle ones.
These are classic asthma signs you should know:
Shortness of breath: This is an obvious complication that happens when you cant get enough oxygen due to the way your airways and their surrounding muscles are reacting to asthma triggers, Sadia Benzaquen, M.D., a pulmonologist and associate professor in the department of internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, tells SELF.
Cough: When an irritant gets into your throat or airways, it stimulates nerves that prompt your brain to make the muscles in your chest and abdomen expel air from your lungs with a cough, according to the Mayo Clinic. Since a sensitivity to irritants can cause asthma symptoms, coughing is a hallmark sign of this condition, says Dr. Benzaquen. In fact, its the most common sign of asthma Dr. Parikh has seen people ignore.
Some people may have these less common signs of asthma:
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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.
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?
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When To See A Doctor
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, , nausea, sweating, dizziness, or fainting.
- The sensation is localized to a specific area of your chest.
- Your chest tightness is associated with physical activity or progressively worsens.
- You have a feeling of impending doom or that something is horribly wrong.
- You experience mild chest tightness at the same time every day or when your asthma medicine is wearing off.
- You only experience chest tightness along with your other asthma symptoms.
- You started having occasional chest tightness when you had a change in your asthma medication.
- Your chest tightness improves when you use your asthma rescue treatment, but is recurrent.
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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How To Prevent An Asthma Attack
Preventing an asthma attack is easier to do if you know what triggers your asthma.
Avoidance of the triggers can help prevent an asthma attack in many cases, says David Stempel, MD, Senior VP of Clinical and Medical Affairs at Propeller Health. Asthma attacks can be further mitigated by taking preventative medications such as inhaled corticosteroids and in some cases using a short-acting bronchodilator, like albuterol, 15 minutes prior to exposure to a trigger like exercise.
Should I Be Extra Cautious About Coronavirus If I Have Asthma
Yes. The CDC has released new guidelines for people with asthma, which include the following:
- Stock up on supplies in case you need to self-isolate .
- Stay at home and practice social distancing from those you do not live with .
- Avoid people who are sick, and wash your hands often.
- Avoid crowds.
- Avoid non-essential travel.
- Clean and disinfect your home and car regularly, especially items you touch often like doorknobs, light switches, cell phones, keyboards, faucets, car door handles, and steering wheels.
- If someone in your home is sick, stay away from them.
- Avoid sharing personal household items such as cups and towels.
The best way to protect yourself is to keep on top of your asthma and asthma symptoms. Follow these simple asthma management steps:
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Are People With Asthma At Higher Risk Of Poor Outcomes From Covid
Despite the lack of hard data, the WHO, the CDC, and lung disease specialists are in agreement: People with asthma have a higher risk of severe illness and death with respiratory infections in general. Because of this, any child or adult with moderate to severe asthma should consider themselves at risk for severe COVID-19 disease and take extra precautions with their health.
This is especially true for anyone who has been admitted to the hospital for asthma in the last 12 months, or who has ever been admitted to an intensive care unit for their asthma.
Why is this recommendation in place when there is no hard evidence? Heres why.
Any infection in the lung can trigger an asthma attack, causing the smallest airways in the lung to tighten up and let very little air in and out. The symptoms are sudden and severe: shortness of breath, wheezing, and cough. If the infection is mild, for example with a common cold, asthma symptoms can usually be managed at home. Most people with asthma have an asthma action plan that tells them how to manage their symptoms when they get worse, and when to seek medical attention.
If the infection is more serious, a person with an asthma attack may need emergency treatment in the hospital with oxygen, nebulizers, and corticosteroids. Usually things improve pretty quickly. Antibiotics help to treat a bacterial lung infection if there is one, and flu treatments like can help shorten symptoms if the infection is caused by the flu.
How Is An Asthma Flare
The best thing to do first if your asthma symptoms are getting worse is to use your rescue or quick-relief medicine. Ask your doctor if youre not sure what to use for quick-relief medicine. The usual inhaler dose is two to four puffs every 20 minutes for a total of three doses, or one nebulizer treatment if you have a home nebulizer.
You should be able to tell how serious the flare-up is after you use your quick-relief medicine. If you have a peak flow meter, check your PEF again after you use the quick-relief medicine. If your PEF is still very low, your flare-up is serious.
Your doctor may have given you a written Asthma Action Plan with directions for treating mild, moderate and severe flare-ups. If you dont have an action plan, ask your doctor for written directions about treating asthma flare-ups. If you have the symptoms of a serious flare-up or if your PEF is less than 50 percent of your personal best, call your doctor right away or go directly to the nearest hospital emergency room .
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What Types Of Asthma Are There
Healthcare providers identify asthma as intermittent or persistent . Persistent asthma can be mild, moderate or severe. Healthcare providers base asthma severity on how often you have attacks. They also consider how well you can do things during an attack.
Asthma can be:
- Allergic: Some peoples allergies can cause an asthma attack. Molds, pollens and other allergens can cause an attack.
- Non-allergic: Outside factors can cause asthma to flare up. Exercise, stress, illness and weather may cause a flare.
Know The Four Steps Of Asthma First Aid
Its important for everyone in the community to know the four steps of asthma first aid.:
If you are not sure if someone is having an asthma attack, you can still use blue reliever medication because it is unlikely to cause harm.
- the person is not breathing
- their asthma suddenly becomes worse
- the person is having an asthma attack and theres no blue reliever medication available.
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