What Has Evidence For Helping The Cough
If the cough is mainly from post-nasal drip, it will respond to measures to reduce this, such as sucking lozenges, saline rinses, nasal sprays, and sleeping in an upright posture.
Some people may develop cough hypersensitivity, where the threshold of the cough reflex has been lowered, so it takes a lot less to set off a cough. Its a common response to colds and it can take a while for our bodies to reset to a less sensitive state.
If a dry or tickly throat sets off your cough reflex, solutions include sipping water slowly, eating or drinking honey, and breathing slowly through your nose.
If the cause originates from inflammation in the lungs, controlled breathing exercises and inhaled steam may help.
Thick mucus can also be made more watery by inhaling saline through a device called a nebuliser, which turns liquid into vapour and delivers it directly to the mucus built up in your lungs. This makes it easier to clear out with a cough.
How Do You Know If Your Asthma Is Mild Moderate Or Severe
Asthma severity is typically classified as intermittent, mild, moderate, and severe. While there are several factors that play into the classification, here are some general guidelines:
- Intermittent asthma typically means your symptoms occur less than twice a week.
- If you have mild asthma, these symptoms might happen twice a week or more, but not daily.
- With moderate asthma, you can experience symptoms every day, but you wont regularly have multiple flares.
- Severe asthma is uncontrolled, meaning symptoms kick in virtually every day, several times a day despite regular medication.
While mild and moderate asthma usually improves with treatment, thats not typically the case with severe asthma.
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The updated guidelines also recommend a type of drug called a long-acting muscarinic antagonist to improve symptoms for these age groups. And for young children who wheeze only when they have a respiratory tract infection , the new guidelines recommend a short course of inhaled corticosteroids plus a rescue inhaler as needed. This can prevent worsening of breathing problems and forestall the need for corticosteroid pills.
Most asthma medications are breathed in through the use of an inhaler or nebulizer. There are two main types of inhalers a metered dose inhaler , which uses a pressurized medicine-filled canister, and a dry powder inhaler , containing medicine in powdered form. A nebulizer uses a mask and delivers medication as a mist. Its important to learn the different techniques for using these devices to ensure the medicine reaches your lungs.
There are few evidence-backed natural remedies for asthma, particularly if your case is severe. But lifestyle changes, like controlling stress, and some complementary therapies, like acupuncture, may help manage symptoms.
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When To See A Doctor About Asthma Symptoms
Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways, but symptoms can be managed and treated through a combination of lifestyle and medication. Here are three easy ways to check if your asthma is under control, according to the American Lung Association:
- Do you experience asthma symptoms or reach for your rescue inhaler more than twice per week?
- Do you wake up at night with asthma symptoms more than twice per month?
- Do you find that you have to refill your rescue inhaler more than two times in a year?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, your asthma may not be well-controlled, and you should reach out to a health professional. Start with your primary care doctor, who can help determine if you should also see a doctor who specializes in asthma and allergies, or the lungs.
You should consider seeing a lung specialist if youre having two or more asthma attacks throughout the year, Dr. Galiatsatos adds, as that means your asthma is uncontrolled.
What Are Asthma Symptoms
The first early warning sign of asthma is arguably the one most commonly associated with the disease: wheezing, or that squeaky sound in your chest when you have trouble breathing.
You might first only hear wheezing when youre breathing out, but as the asthma attack worsens, you might also hear wheezing when breathing in. Its also important to note that during a severe asthma attack, you might not hear any wheezing, which means not enough air is moving through the airways.
People with asthma can have one of any number of symptoms, says Neeta Ogden, M.D., an asthma specialist and immunologist in New York City. The most common tend to be chest tightness, shortness of breath, or feeling like you cant get in a good breath of air.
Heres a little bit more about what to expect from the signs and symptoms of asthma:
Shortness of breath 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.
When your airways narrow, you dont have as much space through which to breathe. As a result, you can experience wheezing, which may sound similar to the whistling sound you might hear if you were to breathe through a straw.
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Salt And Water Gargle
While the remedy may seem relatively simple, a salt and water gargle can help soothe a scratchy throat that causes you to cough. Mixing 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water can help to relieve irritation.
Note that children under age 6 arent especially good at gargling. Its best to try other remedies for this age group.
Emergency Asthma Treatment At Home In Case Of An Attack
- Do not lie down
- Sit up straight and try to calm down
- Take a puff from a reliever every 30 to 60 seconds
- Breathe in through the nose and out through pursed lips
- Breathe in through nose with hands placed on the belly and exhale
- Try sipping warm back tea or coffee
- Try to inhale the vapour of eucalyptus essential oil from a diffuser
Try natural home remedies and learn to cope with the symptoms of asthma. However, in case of a severe attack, you may need to consult a professional healthcare provider. Try to maintain an asthma diary. Write down about your symptoms when you experience them, foods that seem to trigger the symptoms, where you were and what you were doing before your asthma flared up, how often you have to use your inhaler, if at all, and other such details. It will help you and your doctor to get a better insight and control your asthmatic symptoms more effectively.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the readers situation.
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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
- Older age
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. If they have known severe allergies and carry an adrenaline autoinjector, use that before using asthma reliever medication.In case of an emergency, call triple zero and ask for an ambulance.
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How Is Asthma Diagnosed
Asthma is diagnosed by a spectrum of variables, not just one thing, Dr. Ogden says. Your doctor will look at your clinical history and symptoms, pulmonary function testing, and response to medication.
One thing you will need for diagnosis is a big inhale and exhale, or several. Among the breathing tests that are used to measure how well your lungs work are:
- A spirometry test diagnoses asthma severity and measures how well treatment is working. You take a deep breath and blow into a sensor to measure the amount of air your lungs can hold and the speed of the air you inhale or exhale.
- A fractional exhaled nitric oxide test measures how much inflammation you have in your lungs.
- Peak expiratory flow tests measure how fast you can blow out air using maximum effort. This test can be done during spirometry or by breathing into a separate device, like a tube.
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Favorite Blogs About Living With Asthma
The Asthma Allergies Children blog is the work of two physicians, both trained in allergies and immunology. The blog covers topics like medication adherence, cost of care, doctors pet peeves, integrative medicine, new research, and other news. For timely takes on noteworthy topics, check it out.
Stephen Gaudet was born with severe asthma more than 60 years ago and started his blog back in 2004. The blog chronicles the trials and tribulations asthma has caused him, as well as the victories. To date, Gaudet has completed 21 races and nine marathons . Read more about his debilitating diagnosis and how he has overcome it.
Additional reporting bySari Harrar.
Home Remedies For Asthma
Asthma can be defined as either intermittent, meaning symptoms or rescue inhaler use occur no more than twice a week, nighttime symptoms no more than twice a month, and exacerbations no more than once a year. If symptoms, rescue inhaler use, or exacerbations are more frequent, asthma is defined as persistent.
Genetics is one of the most common risk factors for asthma. Meaning, youre more likely to develop asthma if one or both of your parents has asthma. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that most asthma cases are attributed to a combination of family history and environmental factors. The most effective home remedies for asthma are aimed at avoiding or reducing the environmental factors that can cause symptoms.
Lifestyle modifications are the cornerstone of an allergists treatment plan, says J. Allen Meadows, MD, board-certified allergist with Allervie Health in Montgomery, Alabama. Making changes to your everyday routine can help you to avoid asthma attacks.
While these changes are an important part of a treatment plan, they shouldnt be your only tool. Meaning, they arent a replacement for medical treatment and prescription medication. Ten people die each day in the U.S. from asthma, so its important not to rely on lifestyle changes alone, says Purvi Parikh, MD, allergist with the Allergy and Asthma Network. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America notes that most of these deaths are avoidable with proper treatment and care.
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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.
Other Tips For Sleeping With Asthma
Other ways to reduce asthma symptoms at night include:
- Cut down on allergens in your bedroom. Consider using an air purifier next to your bed and keep airflow in your room through the night.
- Wash your bedding in hot water every 1-2 weeks to get rid of dust mites and other irritants that may be on your sheets.
- Consider switching to bedding made of natural cotton, as opposed to synthetic polyester depending on your allergies.
- Keep pets off your bed, especially when youre in it.
- Keep asthma medication on your nightstand or another easily accessible place, and take them as directed by your doctor.
- Set the thermostat in your bedroom slightly higher in the evenings. Sleeping in a cold environment can be an asthma trigger.
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What Are The Signs Of An Asthma Flare
Asthma flare-ups can vary in strength and length. They can happen without warning, causing sudden coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing.
Flare-ups should be treated right away. So its important to know their early warning signs, including:
- restless sleep or coughing that prevents sleep
- mild chest tightness or wheezing
If the flare-up is severe, a kid might:
- struggle to breathe or have fast breathing even when sitting still
- be unable to speak more than a few words at a time without pausing
- have retractions while breathing in
Because they can be life-threatening, flare-ups demand attention. Your child might need to take quick-relief medicine , visit the doctor, or even go to the hospital.
How Is A Post
If youre coughing but have had a viral illness in the last few weeks, you likely dont need to see a doctor. However, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and other conditions can cause a similar cough.
So, if youre concerned about your cough or youre not sure if its related to a recent illness, consider seeing a doctor.
The doctor will start by asking whether youve been sick in the last month or two. Tell them about any illnesses youve had, even if they werent respiratory. Next, they may do a physical examination and use a stethoscope to listen to your chest as you breathe in and out.
Depending on what they hear, they might also order a chest X-ray to get a better view of your chest and lungs.
If they suspect an underlying infection, they might also take a sputum sample to check for signs of infectious organisms.
Youll likely be diagnosed with a post-viral cough if:
- youve recently had a respiratory infection
- your cough lasts between three and eight weeks
- a chest X-ray doesnt show anything unusual
Post-viral coughs often clear up on their own over time, usually within two months. But in the meantime, prescription or over-the-counter medications can offer some relief.
- prescription inhaled ipratropium , which opens up your airways and prevents mucus accumulation
- prescription oral or inhaled corticosteroids, which can reduce inflammation
- OTC cough-suppressants containing dextromethorphan
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The Bumpy Road To Recovering From An Asthma Attack
Its been a few weeks since the onset. I am going to try to walk around the block today. I may not get far, but Ill make the effort. Yesterday, out of sheer boredom, I baked cookies. It was exhausting. Sounds silly but it is very true.
I have asthma. I also had a flu-like virus, a bacterial infection, a high fever, and now a head cold. That combination is so draining, it makes me weary just telling you about it.
As all people with asthma can attest to, the road to recovery from an attack is a difficult one to navigate. It is long and winding and filled with delays. We have to be patient with our selves and our uncooperative bodies. The spirit is willing to try that walk around the block but my body–more specifically, my lungs–not so much.
Don’t Forget To Prepare For Recovery
It is also important that you have the usual bases covered, warm-up, hydration, proper attire including footwear, and of course your rescue inhaler. I am notorious for leaving my inhaler in the locker. It certainly would not be helping me in an emergency while locked in a locker. Don’t be me in this scenario!
I would love to hear about your favorite activities or tips and tricks that you use. Please feel free to share in the comments below!
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