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What Are The Causes Of An Asthma Attack

Medical History And Physical Exam

Asthma Symptoms: What Causes Asthma Attacks?

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 To Stop An Asthma Attack

Stopping an asthma attack is easier if you know what to do once one starts. In some cases, it may not be possible to stop an asthma attack entirely without an inhaler. However, there are certain steps you can take to lessen the duration and intensity of an asthma attack. These include:

  • Use your inhaler
  • Stay calm

Asthma And Allergies Tend To Run In Families

If theres asthma, eczema, hay fever or other allergies in your family it makes asthma more likely.

If you have asthma yourself, your child is much more likely to have asthma too, particularly if both parents have asthma. Theres slightly more chance of asthma being passed on by the mother than the father.

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Triggers For Asthma In Children

Asthma triggers are substances, conditions or activities that lead to asthma symptoms. These include :

  • wheezing whistling noise when breathing
  • coughing .

Your child may have all of these symptoms or just a few. Symptoms are often worse at night, in the early morning, during exercise or due to other triggers.

How Is A Severe Asthma Attack Diagnosed

Asthma symptoms in children, adults, and more

A healthcare provider will perform a lung function test to determine the severity of your asthma. There are different types of lung function tests using different types of devices to measure your airflow, including:

  • Spirometry: During a spirometry test, the patient will breathe into a tube that is attached to a laptop or a machine called a spirometer. As you breathe, the spirometer will measure how much and how fast air goes in and out. You can expect your provider to do this test before and after you take a medication to open up your airways, called a bronchodilator, to see if there is improvement with medication.
  • Peak expiratory flow : Peak flow measures the amount of air you can forcefully exhale. This form of measurement is helpful in monitoring severity, but is not used for diagnosing asthma.
  • Fractional exhaled nitric oxide :Asthma causes the lungs to become inflamed and produces a substance called nitric oxide. This test measures the amount of nitric oxide to determine how much inflammation is in the lungs.
  • Provocation: During a provocation test, a healthcare provider will introduce different allergens to see how your body reacts and how you respond when medication is administered.

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Diagnosing Asthma In Older People

Older people are more likely to have other lung diseases that also cause shortness of breath , so doctors have to determine how much of the persons breathing difficulty is related to asthma and reversible with the appropriate anti-asthma therapy. Often, in these people diagnosis involves a brief trial of drugs that are used to treat asthma to see whether the persons condition improves.

How To Avoid Asthma Triggers

If you know what your asthma triggers are, then where possible, its beneficial to try to avoid them.

If theres a particular allergen culprit you know of, then keeping your home clean and dust-free can help. For example, you could consider swapping carpets for wooden floors to reduce the amount of dust build-up or hiring a cleaner so youre not personally exposed to dust when cleaning.

It can be more difficult to avoid asthma triggers completely when youre at work, especially if your asthma is occupational and linked to your working environment. In an ideal world, you could simply change jobs to something more suitable for your health, but in reality this isnt always feasible.

Let your employer or the HR department know about your asthma. You should be able to discuss the options available for optimising your work environment to be more suitable to your needs.

Keeping on top of your asthma management plan, working alongside your doctor or asthma nurse and making sure you take your inhalers or other asthma medications should help to control your symptoms. Making practical lifestyle choices is important too, like eating healthily, exercising and not smoking.

It can also be beneficial to learn an asthma breathing technique. There are various breathing techniques that can help asthma and knowing how to breathe properly could help if something unexpectedly triggers an attack.

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Asthma Attack Causes And Symptoms

Asthma affects about 235m people worldwide, including both adults and children. The symptoms of asthma can be well controlled by regular medications and lifestyle choices, but sometimes an Asthma Attack occurs where the symptoms suddenly get worse.

Read on to discover the facts about asthma attacks, what causes them, the symptoms to look out for and common asthma attack triggers.

Signs Symptoms And Complications

What Causes an Asthma Attack?

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.

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What Are The Symptoms

Asthma can be different for everyone. Asthma symptoms can also vary over time, with few or no symptoms when asthma is well controlled. The common signs and symptoms of poorly controlled asthma include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble sleeping because of breathing difficulty
  • Being unable to take part in physical activities without breathing difficulty

These symptoms can occur slowly over hours or days, or they can come on as sudden, recurring attacks after which the symptoms can persist for some time before disappearing. If left untreated, asthma can cause permanent structural changes in your airways called airway remodelling, which is why it is important to get your asthma under control and keep treating it over the long term.

Common Asthma Attack Triggers

An asthma trigger is an irritant that causes the airways to become inflamed and constrict. Constriction of airways marks the start of an asthma attack and can cause other symptoms like wheezing.

There isnt one single trigger of asthma. What triggers an asthma attack for one person might not be the same for another. Youll know what causes an asthma attack for you if youre exposed to an irritant and have shortness of breath or start wheezing. The most common triggers are:

  • Allergies
  • Medications such as beta-blockers
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    Whats An Asthma Attack

    When you breathe normally, muscles around your airways are relaxed, letting air move easily. During an asthma attack, three things can happen:

    • Bronchospasm: The muscles around the airways constrict . When they tighten, it makes the airways narrow. Air cannot flow freely through constricted airways.
    • Inflammation: The airway linings become swollen. Swollen airways dont let as much air in or out of the lungs.
    • Mucus production: During the attack, your body creates more mucus. This thick mucus clogs airways.

    How Do You Know If You Are Having An Asthma Attack

    Asthma Triggers

    An asthma attack happens when the body is exposed to a triggerlike pollen or smokethat causes the airways to become inflamed and swollen.

    Asthma attacks are uncomfortable to experience and can be frightening, especially for children. If you or someone you know is having any of the following symptoms, they may be having an asthma attack:

    • Difficulty breathing
    • Chest tightness or pain
    • Coughing or wheezing

    An asthma attack may go away after a few minutes with proper treatment, but symptoms can last longer and become life-threatening if untreated. Seek medical attention immediately if you or someone you know is having a severe asthma attack with one or more of the following symptoms:

    • A feeling of panic about the asthma attack
    • Pale and sweaty face
    • Lips or fingernails that are turning blue
    • No improvement in symptoms after using an inhaler

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    Asthma Patterns In Children

    Every childs asthma is different. Some children have mild, occasional episodes of asthma or only show symptoms after exercising, or when they have a cold. Some experience daily symptoms, while others have symptoms continuously, which limit their level of activity.

    Each pattern of asthma requires a different treatment approach. It is important to remember that children can still have a severe and even life-threatening attack, even if they generally have mild or occasional asthma.

    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.

    Want to know more?

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    Who Strategy For Prevention And Control Of Asthma

    Asthma is included in the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    WHO is taking action to extend diagnosis of and treatment for asthma in a number of ways.

    The WHO Package of Essential Noncommunicable Disease Interventions was developed to help improve NCD management in primary health care in low-resource settings. PEN includes protocols for the assessment, diagnosis, and management of chronic respiratory diseases , and modules on healthy lifestyle counselling, including tobacco cessation, and self-care.

    Reducing tobacco smoke exposure is important for both primary prevention of asthma and disease management. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is enabling progress in this area as are WHO initiatives such as MPOWER and mTobacco Cessation.

    Egfr Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors

    Humidity Can Cause an Asthma Attack

    Inhibition of EGFR tyrosine kinase has been a major interest as therapy for airway hypersecretory diseases. Inhibition reduces mucin synthesis and goblet cell hyperplasia . Analysis of MUC5AC in human cells pre-treated with TGF- found increased expression that was blocked by selective EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors such as BIBX1522 . These inhibitors also prevent IL-13-induced goblet cell hyperplasia and neutrophil recruitment. Furthermore, upregulation of EGFR mRNA and its induced phosphorylation are prevented by EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibition . BIBX1382 is a similar EGFR-TKI that inhibits the intracellular domain of EGFR but failed a Phase I trial due to low bioavailability and an undesirable benefit: risk ratio .

    Gefitinib is an EGFR-TKI used as an anti-cancer drug and has shown to reduce goblet cell hyperplasia in mice, suggesting its potential use in reducing mucus synthesis in hypersecretory phenotypes . However, there are adverse effects to many EGFR-TKIs including gefitinib, such as papulopustular eruptions, as well as lack of successful trials on human asthma and COPD patients .

    A safety and efficacy trial of an EGFR antagonist published in 2010 found that this EGFR-TKI had no significant efficacy in reducing mucin stores in airway epithelial cells of COPD patients, and was not well tolerated among patients. Twenty four percent of the BIBW 2948 subjects discontinued their treatment due to adverse events .

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    What To Do When Having An Asthma Attack

    If you have asthma, then its important that you know what to do and not do if you have an asthma attack.

  • Sit upright in a comfortable position and loosen any tight clothing. Leaning forward slightly or sitting backwards on a chair may help your breathing.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply.
  • If you dont have your inhaler with you, call an ambulance. Dial 999 in the UK, 911 in the US or 112 in the Europe Union.
  • If you do have your reliever inhaler , take one puff every 30-60 seconds up to a maximum of 10 puffs. If you have a spacer device to hand, use that to administer the inhaler, as it can help the medicine get into your airways more efficiently.
  • If youre using your inhaler and feel worse or you dont feel any better after youve had 10 puffs, call the emergency services.
  • If youre waiting for an ambulance and it hasnt arrived within 15 minutes, use your reliever inhaler again and take one puff every 30 to 60 seconds, up to a maximum of 10 puffs.
  • Stay as calm as you can, as panic and anxiety can make your symptoms worse.
  • Its hard to predict exactly when an asthma attack will occur, so its also important to discuss your condition with your family, friends and employer. Its essential that they all become better acquainted with what happens and how to react and help if you have an asthma attack.

    Sinusitis And Other Upper Respiratory Infections

    Much like asthma causes inflammation in the lining of your airways, sinusitis causes inflammation in the mucus membranes that line your sinuses. This makes the membranes put out more mucus. If you have asthma and your sinuses get inflamed, your airways may too. Prompt treatment of a sinus infection can relieve asthma symptoms.

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    Symptoms Of Asthma Emergencies In Children

    The signs of an asthma emergency include when the child:

    • finds it very difficult to breathe or is not breathing
    • is unable to speak comfortably or complete sentences without losing breath
    • has lips turn blue
    • has symptoms that get worse very quickly
    • has tugging in of the skin between ribs or at the base of the neck
    • is getting little or no relief from their reliever inhaler, or their reliever inhaler is not available.

    This Article Has Been Updated

    5 Causes of Asthma

    The evidence in this article is no longer current. to see an updated and expanded article


    VOL: 99, ISSUE: 23, PAGE NO: 63

    This blood supplies the cells of the body with oxygen and removes the waste products of metabolism. Tissues of the respiratory tract are thin and delicate, and become thinnest at the surfaces of the aveoli, where gaseous exchange occurs. The body has a number of mechanisms which protect these tissues and ensure that debris and bacteria do not reach them.

    Tiny hairs called cilia trap large pieces of debris and waft them out of the airways the reflexes of sneezing and coughing help to expel particles from the respiratory system and the production of mucus keeps the tissues moist and helps to trap small particles of foreign matter.

    Mucus production in the airways is normal. Without it, airways become dry and malfunction. But sometimes the mucus is produced in excess and changes in nature. This results in the urge to cough and expectorate this mucus as sputum. Sputum expectoration is not normal and there is always an underlying pathological cause.

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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. 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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    Attack Of Suffocation After Citrus

    All kinds of citrus fruits are beneficial for the body. In some cases, these fragrant and fragrant fruits can cause negative consequences, such as the manifestation of food allergies.

    Usually the symptoms of allergies to citrus fruits appear immediately after eating fruits in food. Sometimes citrus fruits cause asthma attacks, anaphylactic shock and angioedema . Allergic swelling of the mucous membrane can cause a sharp barking cough, severe shortness of breath, an attack of suffocation. In parallel, there may be vomiting and a sharp pain in the abdomen. In such cases, it is necessary to immediately deliver the patient to a medical facility for emergency assistance.

    In some cases, chemical preservatives are the cause of the allergy, which treat fruits for better storage.

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    How Do You Know You Are Having An Asthma Attack

    Dr. Rx

    The most important question to discuss when youve received an asthma diagnosis would be, What can I specifically do to keep my asthma under control? This is so important because asthma flare-ups or attacks can put you at risk for complications from asthma. Dr. Khokhar

    The first symptoms of an asthma attack might be coughing or wheezing. As it becomes worse, you will feel short of breath or have trouble breathing.

    Each breath may not feel like you’re getting enough air. So you keep trying to get more air into your lungs or breathe faster than usual. Your chest may feel tight, almost as if someone is hugging you.

    Pro Tip

    The idea of outgrowing childhood asthma is a common misconception. We approach asthma like its a lifelong disease. Even if you havent had symptoms or needed treatment in years, its still important to mention to your doctor if you ever have breathing issues again in adulthood. Dr. Amrita Khokhar


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