Learn And Avoid Your Triggers
Pay attention to when and where you have symptoms like wheezing and coughing. If you can pinpoint the things that cause your asthma flare-ups, you might be able to avoid them.
Common triggers include cold air, exercise, allergens you breath in, like pollen and pet dander, and colds or bronchitis. .
Strong odors also can cause asthma attacks, so it may help to steer clear of things like perfume, hair spray, talcum powder, and cigarette smoke. If you’re a smoker, kick the habit — ask your doctor how they can help you quit. If anyone else in your home lights up, ask them to quit, too. Even if they only smoke outside, they will still bring the smell and chemicals inside on their clothes and hair.
While food and drinks are not common asthma triggers, some may contain compounds called sulfites — like beer, wine, potatoes, dried fruit, and shrimp — that can make asthma worse for some people. So can some medicines, like aspirin and other pain relievers, or prescription drugs such as some common high blood pressure meds . If you take these drugs and think they’re affecting your asthma, ask your doctor if there are other options you can try.
Severe Asthma Ruins Health Education And Family Lives
If you have severe asthma, youll know what it feels like to start your day breathless and tight-chested, with an irritating cough that wont go away. On top of this youll probably recognise what its like to feel exhausted because of broken sleep, and in constant fear of having an asthma attack at any time an attack so serious that you could easily end up in hospital.
Through all this, you may feel you have to remain bright and positive so your children, spouse, friends or colleagues who may well have seen you rushed to hospital many times dont worry that its going to happen again.
This is the reality of living with severe asthma a condition that affects 200,000 people in the UK, both adults and children. Every day these people are struggling with persistent symptoms and live in fear of having an asthma attack because current treatments dont work. Their medicines are only just about keeping their symptoms under control.
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Asthma Symptoms In A Severe Allergic Reaction
People having a severe allergic reaction can also have asthma-like symptoms. If the person has an anaphylaxis action plan, follow the instructions.
Always give adrenaline injector first, then asthma reliever if someone with known asthma and allergy to food, insects or medication has sudden breathing difficulty even if there are no skin symptoms. In case of an emergency, call triple zero and ask for an ambulance.
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A Cough That Doesn’t Go Away
Signs of an asthma attack can change from one attack to the next. One time you might have little or no coughing beforehand. The next time, you might have a cough that you just can’t get rid of, especially at night.
An asthma cough is usually dry and hacking. If you have one that doesn’t go away after other cold symptoms are gone, that could point to asthma.
Avoid taking cough medicine to feel better. It won’t help the asthma.
Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome
Doctors suspect asthma based largely on a personâs report of characteristic symptoms. Doctors confirm the diagnosis by doing breathing tests Pulmonary function tests measure the lungs capacity to hold air, to move air in and out, and to absorb oxygen. Pulmonary function tests are better at detecting the general type and severity read more ). The most important of these tests are measures of the amount of air a person can blow out in one second. These tests are done before and after giving the person an inhaled drug, called a beta-adrenergic drug , that reverses airway narrowing. If test results are significantly better after the person receives the drug, asthma is thought to be present.
If the airways are not narrowed at the time of the test, a challenge test can help confirm the diagnosis. In a challenge test, pulmonary function is measured before and after the person inhales a chemical that can narrow the airways. The chemical is given in doses that are too low to affect a person with healthy lungs but that cause the airways to narrow in a person with asthma.
Repeatedly measuring lung function over time allows doctors to determine the severity of the airway obstruction and the effectiveness of treatment.
A chest x-ray is usually not helpful in diagnosing asthma. Doctors use chest x-rays when considering another diagnosis. However, a chest x-ray is often obtained when a person with asthma needs to be hospitalized for a severe attack.
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Reducing The Burden Of Asthma
Asthma cannot be cured, but good management with inhaled medications can control the disease and enable people with asthma to enjoy a normal, active life.
There are two main types of inhaler:
- bronchodilators , that open the air passages and relieve symptoms and
- steroids , that reduce inflammation in the air passages. This improves asthma symptoms and reduces the risk of severe asthma attacks and death.
People with asthma may need to use their inhaler every day. Their treatment will depend on the frequency of symptoms and the different types of inhalers available.
It can be difficult to coordinate breathing using an inhaler, especially for children and during emergency situations. Using a spacer device makes it easier to use an aerosol inhaler and helps the medicine to reach the lungs more effectively. A spacer is a plastic container with a mouthpiece or mask at one end and a hole for the inhaler in the other. A homemade spacer, made from a 500ml plastic bottle, can be as effective as a commercially manufactured inhaler.
Access to inhalers is a problem in many countries. In 2021, bronchodilators were available in public primary health care facilities in half of low- and low-middle income countries, and steroid inhalers available in one third.
Five Steps To Manage Your Asthma Well
1. Use an asthma action planto stay on top of symptoms
Using an action plan means youre better equipped to manage your symptoms, and so youre less likely to end up in hospital with your asthma.
An asthma action plan has all the information you need in one place. It reminds you how to look after your asthma every day. And it tells you what to do if your asthma gets worse.
If you havent got an action plan yet, and make an appointment to see your GP or asthma nurse so they can fill it in with you.
2. Take your preventer inhaler every dayeven if you feel well
Your preventer medicine builds up protection over time. It stops your airways from getting inflamed, which means youre less likely to react to your triggers.
Sticking to a good routine of taking your preventer as prescribed will cut your risk of symptoms and an asthma attack.
It could mean you stay symptom-free, so you can get on with what you want to do in life without asthma getting in the way.
3. Carry your reliever inhalerwith you everywhere
Always carry your reliever inhaler with you, so you can deal with unexpected symptoms quickly.
Your action plan can help you spot any symptoms that show your asthma is getting worse. If you act quickly you can reduce the risk of an asthma attack.
If youre using your reliever inhaler three or more times a week, its a sign your asthma is getting worse and you need to see your GP or asthma nurse urgently.
4. Check your inhaler technique
5. Go for an annual asthma review
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Pay Attention To The Air
Cold, dry air can irritate the lungs. When you go outside on wintery days, cover your nose and mouth with a scarf. If you cough or wheeze when you exercise in the cold, go to the gym or try an indoor workout class, instead.
During allergy season, keep track of pollen levels, and stay indoors when they are highest. You can keep tabs on your local air quality year-round at web sites like AirNow.gov. On days when ozone or pollution levels are unhealthy for people with lung diseases, it’s smart to spend as little time outdoors as possible.
How Can I Prevent An Asthma Episode
The best way to prevent an asthma episode, or attack, is to follow your treatment plan. Learn your triggers and avoid them. Take your allergy and asthma medicines when you should. Use your quick-acting medicine as soon as you start to notice symptoms.
Many people live normal lives with asthma if its properly managed. With a good treatment plan and guidance from your doctor, you can still do much of what you enjoy. For example, many professional athletes have asthma.
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Measurable Changes In Your Breathing
A peak flow meter can let you know if an attack is about to happen. Be sure you always know the number that reflects your best breathing.
- If your peak flow meter shows numbers between 50% and 80% of your personal best, an asthma attack has probably started.
- A number below 50% means an emergency. Use your rescue inhaler, and call for help right away.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Asthma
People with asthma usually have obvious symptoms. These signs and symptoms resemble many respiratory infections:
- Chest tightness, pain or pressure.
With asthma, you may not have all of these symptoms with every flare. You can have different symptoms and signs at different times with chronic asthma. Also, symptoms can change between asthma attacks.
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Dont Let Anyone Smoke Inside
Cigarette smoke can trigger an asthma attack in anyone. It can also make attacks worse and even cause someone to get asthma. Children are more sensitive to it because their lungs arenât mature yet and because they breathe faster, so they inhale more smoke than adults in a short period of time. Make sure no one smokes in or near your house, or in any cars. Even thirdhand smoke can make asthma worse.
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When To Call 999
Dont delay getting help if you have an asthma attack. Call 999 if your reliever isnt helping, or lasting four hours, or youre worried at any time.
An asthma attack is a real emergency, and could be life-threatening, says Asthma + Lung UKs in-house GP, Dr Andy Whittamore.
Getting help when you need it is so important, to make sure youre treated quickly. Never think youre wasting anyones time.
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Watch How To Help Someone Who Is 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.
What Should I Do If I Have A Severe Asthma Attack
If you have a severe asthma attack, you need to get immediate medical care.
The first thing you should do is use your rescue inhaler. A rescue inhaler uses fast-acting medicines to open up your airways. Its different than a maintenance inhaler, which you use every day. You should use the rescue inhaler when symptoms are bothering you and you can use it more frequently if your flare is severe.
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.
- Very quick or rapid breathing.
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Chest And Neck Retractions
When it’s hard to breathe, the tissue in the chest and neck may sink in with each breath. This is called retraction.
Retractions mean not enough air is getting into the lungs. They’re a sign of a medical emergency. Call 911 or see a doctor right away.
In children, other signs that breathing is getting worse are:
- Not as active as usual
Know The 4 Steps Of Asthma First Aid
Its important for everyone in the community to know the 4 steps of asthma first aid.
One of the most common reliever medications in Australia is salbutamol, often known as your blue puffer. These are available over the counter from a chemist.
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.Call triple zero immediately if:
- the person is not breathing
- their asthma suddenly becomes worse or is not improving
- the person is having an asthma attack and theres no reliever medication available
- the person is unsure if it is asthma
- the person is known to have anaphylaxis. If this is the case, ALWAYS GIVE ADRENALINE AUTOINJECTOR FIRST, and then reliever, even if there are no skin symptoms.
After An Asthma Attack
You should see a GP or asthma nurse within 48 hours of leaving hospital, or ideally on the same day if you did not need hospital treatment.
About 1 in 6 people treated in hospital for an asthma attack need hospital care again within 2 weeks, so it’s important to discuss how you can reduce your risk of future attacks.
Talk to a doctor or nurse about any changes that may need to be made to manage your condition safely.
For example, the dose of your treatment may need to be adjusted or you may need to be shown how to use your inhaler correctly.
Learn First Aid For Someone Who Is Having An Asthma Attack
1. Help the person sit in a comfortable position and take their inhaler.
When someone has an asthma attack, their airways narrow, making it difficult for them to breathe. An inhaler relaxes the muscles, allowing the airways to expand and ease their breathing.
2. Reassure the person. If the attack becomes severe, or they don’t have their inhaler, call 999 as soon as possible.
A mild attack should ease within a few minutes. If it doesnt, they can continue to take their inhaler. You should call 999 if they they dont have their inhaler, their inhaler has no effect, they are becoming worse or they become unable to talk. Do not leave them, in case the attack becomes severe quickly. If you cant call 999, get someone else to do it.
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Who Can Get Asthma
Statistics show that people assigned female at birth tend to have asthma more than people assigned male at birth. Asthma affects Black people more frequently than other races.
What To Do After An Asthma Attack:
One in six people who receive treatment at the hospital needs emergency treatment again within two weeks. Asthma attacks are not normal and you should not tolerate them.
Take the following key steps to prevent you having another attack in the future:
- Book an urgent appointment with your healthcare provider
- Keep taking your asthma medication as prescribed
- Take the rest of the day to recover after the attack
It is important to know that the majority of severe asthma episodes can be avoided by having good asthma control.
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How Do I Open My Airways
If you have asthma, the best way to keep your airways open is to use your asthma medications as directed by your doctor. These medications can open your airways using a variety of mechanisms, including relaxing airway muscles or reducing inflammation.
Long-term control medications can help prevent the airways from narrowing and leading to asthma symptoms. When asthma symptoms do occur, quick-relief medications like your rescue inhaler can help to quickly open your airways.
In addition to using your asthma medications as directed, some other things that may help to open your airways include practicing breathing exercises or trying steam inhalation.
What Asthma Treatment Options Are There
You have options to help manage your asthma. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to control symptoms. These include:
- Bronchodilators: These medicines relax the muscles around your airways. The relaxed muscles let the airways move air. They also let mucus move more easily through the airways. These medicines relieve your symptoms when they happen and are used for intermittent and chronic asthma.
- Anti-inflammatory medicines: These medicines reduce swelling and mucus production in your airways. They make it easier for air to enter and exit your lungs. Your healthcare provider may prescribe them to take every day to control or prevent your symptoms of chronic asthma.
- Biologic therapies for asthma: These are used for severe asthma when symptoms persist despite proper inhaler therapy.
You can take asthma medicines in several different ways. You may breathe in the medicines using a metered-dose inhaler, nebulizer or another type of asthma inhaler. Your healthcare provider may prescribe oral medications that you swallow.
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