How To Treat An Asthma Attack Without An Inhaler
You should always take your medication even when you feel your condition has improved. Asthma requires consistent care and proper management, so you need to have an inhaler to use when you experience an attack. But what should you do if you dont have an inhaler when you have an asthma attack?
Hereâs how to treat an asthma attack if you dont have your inhaler:
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What Causes A Severe Asthma Attack
Severe asthma attacks typically occur when an individual is exposed to an allergen. It’s important to remember that different people have different triggers, so making a plan to identify yours can help reduce the frequency of severe asthma attacks.
The most common allergens that trigger asthma attacks include:
People with severe asthma are at a greater risk for having asthma attacks on a regular basis. Severe asthma may not respond well to regular asthma treatment, so it is crucial to identify your own triggers and try to avoid them.
Common Symptoms To Look Out For
Response from Lyn Harper, MPA, BSRT, RRT
Yes, there can be many warning signs of an asthma attack. They may come on suddenly or over a period of days. Here are a few things to watch for:
- A reduction in your peak flow reading. This gives you very early notification that youâre headed for a flare-up.
- Sudden shortness of breath
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Personal Asthma Action Plan
As part of your initial assessment, you should be encouraged to draw up a personal asthma action plan with your GP or asthma nurse.
If you’ve been admitted to hospital because of an asthma attack, you should be offered an action plan before you go home.
The action plan should include information about your asthma medicines, and will help you recognise when your symptoms are getting worse and what steps to take. You should also be given information about what to do if you have an asthma attack.
Your personal asthma action plan should be reviewed with your GP or asthma nurse at least once a year, or more frequently if your symptoms are severe.
As part of your asthma plan, you may be given a peak flow meter. This will give you another way of monitoring your asthma, rather than relying only on symptoms, so you can recognise deterioration earlier and take appropriate steps.
Read further information:
Medical History And Physical Exam
Your doctor will ask about your risk factors for asthma and your symptoms. They may ask also about any known allergies. This includes how often symptoms occur, what seems to trigger your symptoms, when or where symptoms occur, and if your symptoms wake you up at night.
During the physical exam, your doctor may:
- Listen to your breathing and look for symptoms of asthma
- Look for allergic skin conditions, such as eczema
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.
Can A Child Have An Asthma Attack While Sleeping
Asthma symptoms at night are extremely common. In fact, many people with asthma experience nighttime symptoms at least once a week and some every night. This is commonly referred to as nocturnal asthma. It shouldnt be surprising when you think about asthma triggers, however. Remember indoor allergens are a common trigger for an asthma attack, so sleep is primetime for exposure to these allergens. For children with asthma, it is essential to reduce their exposure to environmental triggers and teach them how to recognize asthma symptoms.
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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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The Late Phase Asthma Attack
About 60% of asthmatics who experience the early phase will experience this late phase. This is your bodys natural response when you are constantly exposed to an asthma trigger like dust mites, or a high dose of them.
During the early phase, mediators of inflammation are released. Some immediately cause inflammation. This is what causes your early phase asthma attack. The rest travel through your bloodstream and recruit reinforcements.
The reinforcements start arriving 4-8 hours after initial exposure to an antigen . When they arrive, the late phase asthma attack begins. These reinforcements cause persistent airway inflammation. This makes airways increasingly hypersensitive to asthma triggers. This response prolongs the asthma attack. It also increases the risk for future asthma attacks. It may last 12-24 hours . It may last even longer.1,2
Here is what happens. These are the reinforcements that are now inside your airways. They are meant to kill pathogens. Although in our case, they are abnormally recruited to kill harmless dust mites.
Interleukin 5 . Its a cytokine released by Th2 cells during the early phase asthma attack. Its role is to travel through your bloodstream and recruit eosinophils.
When eosinophils come into contact with airway cells they degranulate. This means they release their contents. These contents include a variety of chemicals. I wont list any of them here. I will save that for a future post.
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Finding Are Recyclable Asthma Inhalers The Period
The State University of New York at Brooklyn, AllergyImmunology training program is a conjoint pediatricmedicine program designed to train board eligible or board certified pediatric and medical post graduates in the broad disciplines of allergy and clinical immunology. Genesis and development of a self-management program for childhood asthma. It was tested in 6 Western published controlled clinical trials.
Goldenrod Benefits- Herbal Academy of New England.
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.
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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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Know The Signs Of An Asthma Attack
Youre having an asthma attack if:
- your blue reliever isnât helping, or you need to use it more than every four hours
- youâre wheezing a lot, have a very tight chest, or youâre coughing a lot
- youâre breathless and find it difficult to walk or talk
- your breathing is getting faster and it feels like you canât get your breath in properly
You may have all of these signs and symptoms. Or you may have just some of them. For example, you may not wheeze.
Know your early warning signs
An asthma attack happens when your symptoms get much worse. This can happen quite suddenly or can build up gradually over a few days.
You can stop an asthma attack before it happens, or make it less serious so you dont end up in hospital, by recognising when your symptoms are getting worse.
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Asthma Action Plans For Children
An asthma action plan is a clear written summary of instructions for when your childs asthma symptoms change. Everyone with asthma should have a personalised asthma action plan written by their doctor.
Your childs asthma action plan will tell you:
- how to recognise when your childs asthma is getting worse or an attack is developing, and the steps you should take to manage it
- symptoms that are serious, indicating a need for urgent medical help
- your childs asthma triggers.
Make sure you understand and can follow the asthma action plan from your doctor.
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Whats The Outlook For People With Asthma
Most people with asthma are able to manage symptoms and maintain a good quality of life.
An acute exacerbation of asthma can be a life-threatening event. However, you should be able to resume your normal activities once its under control. Of course, youll want to avoid known triggers and follow your doctors advice for management of your asthma.
If you have asthma, you should have an action plan in place. Work with your doctor to come up with a plan so youll know what to do when symptoms flare up.
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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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 To Do For An Asthma Attack When An Inhaler Is Not Available
Severe asthma attacks can be terrifying. What if you dont have access to a quick-relief inhaler? While having a quick-relief inhaler for an acute asthma attack is normally the first approach, when you dont have your inhaler, there are things you can do.
While you are waiting for help, you may have a family member bring you a cup of hot coffee. While coffee does not treat asthma attacks, it does have mild bronchodilator properties and may provide some temporary relief.
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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.
Treatment Options For Severe Asthma
Your asthma treatment depends on how severe your symptoms are on a regular basis. If you have severe asthma, its likely that you already take long-term control medications. You may also have a rescue inhaler on hand just in case an asthma attack occurs.
Severe asthma attacks dont respond to regular asthma treatment, so you need emergency medical treatment if your rescue medications arent working. At the emergency room, your medical team may:
- use a test called pulse oximetry to tell how much oxygen is in your blood
- measure your PEF to determine how much and how fast you exhale
- take a nitric oxide measurement to determine bronchial tube inflammation
- measure your forced expiratory volume with a spirometry test
- perform a chest X-ray
Once your doctor confirms that youre having a severe asthma attack, they may administer one or more of the following:
- albuterol, an inhaled aerosol or powder
- ipratropium , a type of inhaled bronchodilator used when rescue inhalers alone are not enough
- oral or intravenous corticosteroids to control inflammation
- practicing breathing techniques
- eating anti-inflammatory foods
First, its important to get lots of rest post-attack. Your body needs to recover from the stress of an asthma attack, and you may also feel emotionally drained. Take time off work if needed and put chores on the back burner while you recover. Ask for help from friends and family for anything that cant wait.
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