What Happens During An Asthma Attack
Exposure to allergens can cause asthma attacks.
The lungs are like trees with many branches, but instead of leaves at the end, there are balloon-like air sacs that inflate and deflate to help a person breathe. The tree’s trunk and the branches that lead from it are all part of the airways.
These airways are usually open, allowing oxygen to fill the air sacs in the lungs. However, when a person has asthma, the linings of the airways become inflamed and irritated or can swell or have extra mucus present.
These situations can make breathing harder because a person cannot move as much air through a smaller airway.
Sometimes, people can experience an acute asthma flare-up known as an asthma attack.
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, tachypnea , 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.
Does Asthma Cause Chest Pain
The coughing and wheezing experienced during an asthma attack can lead to chest discomfort afterward. When this occurs, a person should consider their symptoms, noting, for example, whether their chest is sore or whether they are feeling a sharp pain.
Two primary medical conditions can cause chest pain following an asthma attack: pneumomediastinum and pneumothorax.
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What Is Tightness In The Chest
Chest tightness describes any discomfort that occurs between your lower neck and upper belly area. Tightness in the chest may be felt all over the chest area or located in one spot or several spots in the chest.
Chest tightness can occur in any age group. It is sometimes described as chest pressure, chest pain, or a feeling of fullness or weight in the chest.;;
The sensation of chest tightness varies from person to person in terms of how it feels and how often it occurs. Some people may experience chest tightness only once, while others with certain conditions may experience it more frequently.
Many people assume they are having a heart attack when they experience chest tightness, but there are many reasons why you may be having it.
Signs You Actually Have Severe Asthma
Breathing is just one of those things you take for granted until it feels like every inhale or exhale is a struggle. Unfortunately, people with severe asthma have to deal with breathing issues way more often than anyone should, and it can be completely terrifying.
Asthma is a respiratory condition that affects the airways that extend from your nose and mouth to your lungs, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . When youre exposed to triggers like animal fur, pollen, mold, exercise, and respiratory infections, these airways can narrow, restricting your airflow. This can then make the muscles surrounding your airways constrict, making it even harder to breathe, and cause your airways to produce more mucus than normal, further compounding the problem. All together, this can lead to asthma symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing , and chest tightness or pain, according to the NHLBI.
Like most health conditions, asthma severity runs along a spectrum, Emily Pennington, M.D., a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. Some people have cases where they experience minor symptoms here and there . Others can have asthma that is basically an ever-present problem and might result in scary asthma attacks, which is when symptoms ramp up in severity and can even become life-threatening.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Asthma
Asthma causes difficulty breathing because of narrowed, mucus-filled airways. This may cause a child to have trouble breathing and/or develop a tight feeling in the chest. Other asthma symptoms include fast breathing, wheezing, coughing, or needing to use extra muscles in the neck, chest, or abdomen to bring air into the lungs.
Symptoms of asthma are not the same for everyone. Some children have symptoms nearly every day and need to take medications. Other children may only have occasional symptoms, one or two times a week. These people may only need medications when they have asthma symptoms.
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Increasing Your Treatment Dose
Your GP will probably try you on an add-on treatment before increasing the dose in your usual preventer medicine. This is so you can continue on a low dose of steroid medicine and avoid side effects.
They may consider trying a different inhaler device that may be easier for you to use, before increasing the dose.
If youre still having symptoms, even though youre taking add-on treatments or have tried a new inhaler device, your GP may consider increasing the dose of your preventer. They would start with an increase from a low to a medium dose.
Whenever your medicines change you should have another appointment with your GP or asthma nurse within four to eight weeks, either in the surgery or over the phone, to see if the change is working well for you.
Ask your GP or asthma nurse to update your asthma action plan with any changes to your medicines.
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Will Medicine Help Me Sleep Better
Yes, if you have nighttime asthma symptoms. Many people wake up with asthma symptoms such as coughing or wheezing. You can control nighttime symptoms by taking asthma medicines as directed by your doctor.;
Removing triggers where you sleep may help you sleep better. Many people are allergic to dust mites and mold found in bedding materials. Using mattress or pillow encasements can help contain those allergens. Dehumidifiers can also be helpful to reduce the humidity in your home that dust mites and mold need to exist. Using air cleaners in your bedroom may also help reduce your exposure to allergens and irritants .;
My Experience With Chest Tightness And Asthma
I have never worn a corset, however, that is what I imagine happening in my chest when I experience chest tightness. I describe it as a corset to others because it feels like a physical barrier, holding my chest in as I try to inflate my lungs. As if I were being hugged too tightly as I try to inhale. Often, the constriction tightens with each attempted breath, spurring a counter-productive panic.
I dont always experience this symptom with my asthma, its a secondary symptom, mostly. When I do experience it, its usually accompanied by stress or anxiety, as an exacerbation to my initial flare. Im thankful for this, because, in all honestly, its terrifying.
My biggest fears to this day are drowning and suffocating, the feeling of not being able to breathe; stemming directly from the tightness of my chest during an asthma attack. I like to understand my fears, I find it helps me to rationalize and reduce anxiety. So, I dove into a bit of research and this is what I found.
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How Common Is Chest Tightness In People With Asthma
In the emergency department survey of people with asthma, 91% reported feeling chest tightness.3 Chest pain was less common. It occurred in about 76% of people.
Asthma-related chest tightness often occurs during exercise or at night.2 If your history and physical exam suggest that you have asthma, your provider may ask you to do spirometry to confirm the diagnosis. Spirometry is an important lung function test to evaluate how much and how quickly you can exhale air. The test is usually done before and after taking a medication that opens the airways . Asthma is likely if medications are able to open the airways.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Asthma
If you suspect you might have asthma, you should see your doctor for a professional diagnosis. Dont ignore it if you do have asthma, the sooner you get it under control, the faster you can get back to living a full and active life. For more information on how Asthma Australia is helping people with asthma to breathe so they can live freely, visit About Us.
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What Happens During An Asthma Episode
During normal breathing, the airways to the lungs are fully open. This allows air to move in and out of the lungs freely. Asthma causes the airways to change in the following ways:
These changes narrow the airways. Breathing becomes difficult and stressful, like trying to breathe through a straw stuffed with cotton.
Explaining Your Symptoms To Your Gp
Its a good idea to start a diary of your symptoms before speaking to your GP. Taking note of when symptoms flare-up may help you to understand your triggers. This diary will then help your GP to understand and properly assess your condition. You could also try filming your symptoms if they are hard to describe.
There are several different tests for asthma – so your GP wont be able to diagnose you straightaway. Our advice on diagnosing asthma explains this process in more detail.
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Signs Symptoms And Complications
How often;signs;and;symptoms;of asthma occur may depend on how severe, or intense, the asthma is and whether you are exposed to allergens. Some people have symptoms every day, while others have symptoms only a few days of the year. For some people, asthma may cause discomfort but does not interfere with daily activities. If you have more severe asthma, however, your asthma may limit what you are able to do.
When asthma is well controlled, a person shows few symptoms. When symptoms worsen, a person can have what is called an asthma attack, or an exacerbation. Over time, uncontrolled asthma can damage the airways in the lungs.
Side Effects Of Relievers And Preventers
Relievers are a safe and effective medicine, and have;few side effects as long as they are not used too much. The main side effects include a mild shaking of the hands ,;headaches and muscle cramps. These usually only happen with high doses of reliever inhaler and usually only last for a few minutes.
Preventers are;very safe at usual doses, although they can cause a range of side effects at high doses, especially with long-term use.
The main side effect of preventer inhalers is a fungal infection of the mouth or throat . You may also develop a hoarse voice and sore throat.
Using a spacer can help prevent these side effects, as can rinsing your mouth or cleaning your teeth after;using;your preventer inhaler.
Your doctor or nurse will discuss with you the need to balance control of your asthma with the risk of side effects, and how to keep;side effects to a minimum.
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How Asthma Is Treated
While there is no cure for asthma, there are a number of treatments that can help control the condition.
Treatment is based on two important goals, which are:
- relieving symptoms;
- preventing future symptoms and attacks
For most people, this will involve the occasional or, more commonly, daily use of medications, usually taken using an inhaler. However, identifying and avoiding possible triggers is also important.
You should have a personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor or nurse that includes information about the medicines you need to take, how to recognise when your symptoms are getting worse, and what steps to take when they do so.
These symptoms are often worse at night and early in the morning, particularly if the condition is not well controlled. They may also develop or become worse in response to a certain trigger, such as exercise or exposure to an allergen.
Read our page on the;causes of asthma for more information about potential triggers.
Speak to your GP if you think you or your child may have asthma. You should also talk to your doctor or asthma nurse if you have been diagnosed with asthma and you are finding it difficult to control the symptoms.
How You Can Tell If You Are Suffering From Anxiety
The easiest way to determine if you are suffering from anxiety-induced chest tightness is by ruling out any cardiac or lung-related disease. Only a physician can rule these out completely.
A few signs can be helpful in determining if your chest tightness is cardiac-related. This is by no means an all-inclusive list. So, when in doubt, please visit your primary care physician. Generally, the following is more likely to be true of anxiety-related chest tightness and/or pressure:
- It is less likely to radiate towards the back, arms, or shoulders.
- It is more likely to occur with other anxiety symptoms.
- It tends to last for less than 10 minutes.
Again, having chest pain that abides by these suggestions does not rule out any cardiac or pulmonary causes. Also, women, diabetics, and the elderly often present with chest pain that is atypical of traditional cardiac chest tightness. So, if you belong to one of these groups and have new-onset chest pressure and/or tightness, it is best to see a physician first.
Anxiety attacks have a peak time, and that tends to be when the chest pressure is at its worst. Cardiac chest pressure, on the other hand, is more likely to last longer than 15 minutes, radiate, not be relieved with the resolution of anxiety, and be associated with shortness of breath etc.
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Why Is My Chest Wheezing At Night
Wheezing while lying down is a common symptom of conditions such as asthma. It can also be the result of anxiety at night, GERD, or obesity. Some people may have a combination of several conditions. For example, those with GERD and asthma may find that acid reflux triggers their asthma symptoms when lying down.
If You Have Asthma Your Healthcare Team Will:
- Explain how you can keep your asthma under control by avoiding your personal triggers
- Prescribe medication that will help minimize your symptoms
- Show you how to take your medication properly, checking your inhaler technique
- Work with you so you have a written;Asthma Action Plan
- Recommend that you visit on a regular basis so that your symptoms can be monitored and your treatments adjusted if necessary
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Home Remedies For Getting Rid Of Tightness In Chest:
1. Garlic for chest pain Garlic is considered to be one of the most effective home remedies for getting rid of tightness in chest. Regular consumption of raw garlic helps reduce the cholesterol levels in your body and reduces the chances of cardiovascular diseases by increasing blood flow to the heart. Follow the given steps for maximum effects:
- Take ½ teaspoon of garlic juice.
- Add to one cup of hot boiling water.
- Consume daily.
- Take one glass of milk and add a couple of cloves of garlic.
- Boil the milk and drink the mixture.
- Chew the cloves slowly to reduce phlegm accumulation.
2. Ginger root for chest pain Ginger prevents the blood vessels to get damaged due to high cholesterol levels. Ginger tea builds up blood vessels and reduces tightness in right side of the chest.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of grated ginger in boiling water.
- Simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add honey for flavor.
- Drink at least 2 times on a daily basis.
3. Holy Basil for Chest pain Holy basil or Tulsi helps in proper functioning of the heart. It is rich in magnesium and provides a good blood flow to the heart. Follow the given steps for maximum benefits:
- Crush 10-12 Tulsi leaves and extract the juice.
- Mix with honey. Consume daily.
- Add a few leaves of holy basil and ginger to a cup of water.
- Drink the tea on a daily basis.
- Take some hibiscus flower petals and boil them in water.
- Let this simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
- Add honey after straining.
- Inhale the emanating steam while drinking this tea.
Adjust Treatment According To Your Asthma Action Plan
When your lungs arent working as well as they should be, you may need to adjust your medications according to the plan you made with your doctor ahead of time. Your written asthma action plan will let you know exactly when and how to make adjustments.
The chart below can help you determine if youre doing a good job of keeping your asthma under control. A similar system should be included in your asthma action plan. Depending on where your asthma control falls on the chart, you may need to make adjustments to your medications.
|More than 80% of your predicted personal best||60 to 80% of your predicted personal best||Less than 60% of your predicted personal best|
There are two main types of medications used to treat asthma:
- Long-term control medications such as inhaled corticosteroids are the most important medications used to keep asthma under control. These preventive medications treat the airway inflammation that leads to asthma symptoms. Used on a daily basis, these medications can reduce or eliminate asthma flare-ups.
- Quick-relief inhalers contain a fast-acting medication such as albuterol. These medications are sometimes called rescue inhalers. Theyre used as needed to quickly open your airways and make breathing easier. Knowing when to use these medications can help prevent an impending asthma attack.
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