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How To Know If You Are Having An Asthma Attack

About Dr Cicily Stanton

How Do I Prevent and Treat an Asthma Attack?

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.

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

Q: What Increases Your Risk For Adult

A: Most childhood asthma disappears in adulthood. But having childhood asthma increases your risk of a relapse in your 30s or 40s. Other factors that increase the risk of adult-onset asthma include:

  • Being overweight or obese: A low level of physical activity, changes in lung physiology and higher levels of inflammation are among several factors at play.
  • Being female: Hormonal fluctuations in pregnancy and menopause can trigger asthma.
  • Allergens: Cats, cigarette smoke, chemicals, mold or dust can trigger asthma.
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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.

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    How Do You Know If You Have Asthma

    Asthma UK on Twitter: " Everyone needs to know what to do ...

    Asthma is a respiratory problem usually occurs due to the inflammation of bronchial tubes but how do you know if you have asthma? Normally, people experience symptoms like coughing, wheezing, tight feeling in chest and allergies as well. These symptoms simply points to the asthma. Are these symptoms enough to find out whether you have asthma or not? Its a no. Some people will not experience in the same way.

    Symptoms for asthma attack can be mild to severe. Mild attacks are common. Mild asthma attacks might cause during exercise or due to the cold. Sometimes mild asthma attack tends to last longer. Well, in this case, immediate treatment is required. Seeking medical treatment at prior will keep asthma under control. But how do you know if you have asthma? Here are some signs and symptoms that will help you to know about it.


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    Vaping And Lung Damage

    • Talk with your teen about the dangers of vaping.
    • Vaping can cause severe lung damage. It can become permanent.
    • Vaping can even cause death .
    • Vaping tobacco also causes nicotine addiction.
    • For these reasons, the legal age to purchase vaping products is 21 in the US.
    • Encourage your teen to not start vaping or to give it up.
    • Warning: home-made or street-purchased vaping solutions are the most dangerous.

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    What Should I Do If I Have A Severe Asthma Attack

    A severe asthma attack needs immediate medical care. The first step is your rescue inhaler. A rescue inhaler uses fast-acting medicines to open up your airways. Its different than your normal maintenance inhaler, which you use every day. You should only use the rescue inhaler in an emergency.

    If your rescue inhaler doesnt help or you dont have it with you, go to the emergency department if you have:

    • Anxiety or panic.
    • Bluish fingernails, bluish lips or gray or whitish lips or gums .
    • Chest pain or pressure.

    Watch How To Help Someone Who Is Having An Asthma Attack

    How do I Help Someone Who’s Having an Asthma Attack?

    What is asthma?

    Asthma is a medical condition that affects the airways the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. When someone has an asthma attack, these tubes become narrowed, making it difficult to breathe in and out.

    How can I tell if someone is having an asthma attack?

    People with asthma should be able to let you know if they are having an attack.

    Someone having an asthma attack will have difficulty breathing and speaking, and may cough and wheeze. They may be very anxious and distressed as they struggle to breathe.In some cases, their lips, earlobes and nail beds may turn greyish-blue because there isnt enough oxygen in their body.

    What sort of medication will someone with asthma use?

    Someone who has asthma will normally have an inhaler that their doctor has prescribed. They may also have a spacer, which makes the inhaler more effective.

    If someone is having an asthma attack they should know how to use their inhaler and spacer but they may need your help in finding them.

    What does an inhaler look like?

    Inhalers can come in many different sizes and shapes. Inhalers to relieve asthma attacks are usually blue. Inhalers that prevent asthma attacks may be brown or white.

    How do you use an inhaler?

    If a person has asthma they should know how to use their inhaler, they may need your help getting it for them. They should take it as normal. If that doesnt help they can take one or two puffs every 30 or 60 seconds until theyve had 10 puffs.

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    Continue Using Rescue Medication As Instructed

    If your symptoms are severe, use your rescue medication while you wait for help. Follow the instructions that your doctor or pharmacist provided for using your rescue medication in an emergency. The maximum dosage will vary based on the medication.

    Dont hesitate to call for emergency help if youre experiencing asthma symptoms. An asthma attack can worsen quickly, especially in children.

    Allergic asthma attacks are triggered by exposure to allergens. The symptoms can sometimes be confused with anaphylaxis, another potentially life-threatening condition.

    Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction to allergens such as:

    • certain medications
    • foods like peanuts, eggs, or shellfish

    Some common symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

    • swelling of the mouth, tongue, or throat
    • shortness of breath, wheezing, and difficulty breathing or talking
    • dizziness or fainting

    Developing these symptoms after youre exposed to an allergen usually suggests anaphylaxis, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

    If youre unsure if youre having a severe allergic asthma attack or anaphylaxis and you have injectable epinephrine with you, take it. Dial 911 to call for an ambulance immediately.

    Epinephrine will help alleviate the symptoms of both allergic asthma and anaphylaxis until you can get to the hospital.

    Severe allergic asthma attacks and anaphylaxis can be fatal, so its important to seek care at the first sign of symptoms.

    • pollen
    • pet dander, saliva, and urine
    • dust and dust mites

    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.

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    What Do I Do If I Have An Asthma Attack

    If you or a loved one is having an asthma attack and the symptoms donât get better quickly after following the asthma action plan, follow the “red zone” or emergency instructions and contact your doctor or right away. You need urgent medical attention.

    1. Give asthma first aid.

    If the person doesn’t have an asthma plan:

    • Sit them upright comfortably and loosen tight clothing.
    • If the person has asthma medication, such as an inhaler, help them take it.
    • If the person doesnât have an inhaler, use one from a first aid kit. Do not borrow someone elseâs. The medicine in it may be different than the needed rescue medicine. Also, using someone else’s inhaler has a slight risk of passing on an infection.

    2. Use an inhaler with a spacer, if possible.

    • Remove the cap and shake the inhaler well.
    • Insert the inhaler into the spacer.
    • Have the person breathe out completely and put their mouth tightly around the spacer mouthpiece.
    • Press the inhaler once to deliver a puff.
    • Have the person breathe in slowly through their mouth and hold their breath for 10 seconds.
    • Give a total of four puffs, waiting about a minute between each puff.

    3. Use an inhaler without a spacer, if necessary.

    4. Continue using the inhaler if breathing is still a problem.

    5. Monitor the person until help arrives.

    • Do not mistake drowsiness as a sign of improvement it could mean asthma is getting worse.
    • Do not assume that the personâs asthma is improving if you no longer hear wheezing.

    6. Follow up.

    Managing Your Asthma Flare

    Asthma attacks

    Am Fam Physician. 1998 Jul 1 58:109-113.

    See related article on asthma.

    To keep your asthma under control, you need to know what to do when you have a flare-up of symptoms . First, you need to know the symptoms that tell you your asthma is getting worse . Second, you need to know how to treat your asthma when it gets worse. Early treatment of flare-ups works the best and will help get your asthma under control quickly.

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    When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Eib

    If you or your child has symptoms of exercise or sports-induced asthma, call your provider. Several conditions have symptoms that are similar to EIB. Its essential to get evaluated.

    If you or your child has severe shortness of breath or trouble breathing, seek immediate medical attention. Call 911 or go directly to the emergency room.

    A note from Cleveland Clinic

    Many people with exercise-induced asthma play sports, enjoy a range of activities and live an active lifestyle. People of all fitness levels, including Olympic athletes and marathon runners, manage asthma and excel at their sports. If you or your child has EIB, be sure to include a warmup routine before exercise. Keep an eye on pollen counts and air quality before you head outside. Talk to your provider about medications that can help you breathe easier. With lifestyle changes and prior planning, you can stay active and exercise safely.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/17/2021.


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    Other Reasons For Cough And Wheeze In Children

    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 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 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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    How To Prevent Your Dog From Having An Asthma Attack

    The best way to help a dog with an asthma attack is prevention. There are many ways in which you can significantly decrease the chance that your dog has an asthma attack. Below are the best ways to prevent your dog from having an asthma attack:

    • Dont smoke in your house
    • Clean your dogs face whenever they come inside if they have any allergies
    • If you have a cat, consider switching to a litter that is dust free
    • Regularly clean and dust your house. If you have carpets, regularly vacuum them
    • Wash your dogs bed frequently
    • Put your dog in its own room when you have a lot of guests over
    • Have your dog diagnosed with asthma by the vet if you notice chronic breathing problems. Your vet will likely prescribe your dog asthma medication which helps keep their diaphragm dilated and prevents the chances of your dog suffering from a asthma attack
    • Keep a close eye on your dog, and pay attention if you suspect they might have allergies

    What To Do After An Asthma Attack

    Recognizing an Asthma Attack in Your Child

    An asthma attack can be a learning experience if you and your doctor use it to refine your asthma action plan. Get some tips on what to do after an asthma attack.

    An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms that causes your air passages to become smaller and makes your breathing more difficult. Symptoms of an asthma attack may include difficult and painful breathing, coughing, and wheezing. Anyone with asthma needs to have a plan for what to do during an asthma attack. But you should also know what to do after an asthma attack.

    “You can’t always avoid an asthma attack, but you can check in with your doctor and use an asthma attack as a way to improve your asthma management,” said Jonathan Bernstein, MD, an associate professor in allergy and asthma at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center. “In some cases, an asthma attack may be an indication that you need to make some changes.”

    Seeing your doctor after an asthma attack is especially important if you are newly diagnosed. “Discussing the attack with your doctor can help you learn more about your asthma and empower you to manage your asthma better in the future,” said Sumita Khatri, MD, co-director of the asthma center at the Cleveland Clinic.

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    What You Should Do If You Suspect You Have Asthma

    If you think that you may have asthma, it is important that you make an appointment with your healthcare provider. Without proper diagnosis, you cannot get proper treatment, and proper treatment can be lifesaving!

    Unfortunately, there is no cure for asthma. However, there are many different treatments in the form of inhalers and oral medications that can make asthma manageable. It is also important to obtain a diagnosis so that exacerbations can be prevented.

    Asthma Management Can Help

    A single individuals asthma does not necessarily remain in the same category permanently. A person with seasonal asthma triggers may find that at a certain time of year for instance, when ragweed pollen is in the air he or she is in a higher severity group than during the rest of the year.

    Asthma that starts during childhood also may become less severe as a person grows and his or her airways become wider. For any person with asthma, effective ongoing asthma control can help them move into a less severe category.

    The asthma experts at UI Health can help you bring your asthma under control. To request an appointment, please fill out the online form or call 312.996.3300.

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