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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of An Asthma Attack

Medical History And Physical Exam

Understanding Warning Signs of an Asthma Attack

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

/9how To Manage The Condition

Dr Tickoo made it clear that inhalers are the best way to keep the symptoms of asthma in control and prevent an asthma attack. Those suffering from chronic respiratory conditions need to be careful in winters as an asthma attack triggered due to viral infection can lead to secondary symptoms like fever and pneumonia in the worst case. It makes the situation more difficult and serious.

What To Expect When You Visit The Doctor

Your doctor may ask whether you have any family history of asthma, eczema or hay fever.

In children, doctors assess the severity of the asthma based on the pattern and frequency of the symptoms.

Lung function tests are difficult to perform in children younger than 5 years and so are usually only used to diagnose and assess severity in children 5 years and older.

It is recommended that a paediatrician or paediatric respiratory specialist diagnose and manage asthma in infants under 12 months. If your infant is wheezing your doctor should refer to you one of these specialists.

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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.

How Is Asthma Prevented And Treated

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There is no cure for asthma. Control symptoms by taking asthma medicines and avoiding your triggers. With proper treatment and an asthma management plan, you can reduce your symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.

Talk to your health care provider about your asthma symptoms and be sure to discuss any changes in your asthma management or status.

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What To Do If You Have An Asthma Attack

If you think you’re having an asthma attack, you should:

  • Sit upright and try to take slow, steady breaths. Try to remain calm, as panicking will make things worse.
  • Take 1 puff of your reliever inhaler every 30 to 60 seconds, up to a maximum of 10 puffs.
  • If the ambulance has not arrived within 15 minutes, repeat step 2.
  • Never be frightened of calling for help in an emergency.

    Try to take the details of your medicines with you to hospital if possible.

    If your symptoms improve and you do not need to call 999, get an urgent same-day appointment to see a GP or asthma nurse.

    This advice is not for people on SMART or MART treatment. If this applies to you, ask a GP or asthma nurse what to do if you have an asthma attack.

    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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    So What Are The Symptoms You Should Watch Out For

    Which signs of asthma you might experience differs from person to person and some are more common than others, Raymond Casciari, M.D., a pulmonologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California, tells SELF. Its possible that youll have such a mild reaction to one of your personal asthma triggers that you dont take much note of it. But if the effects get worse, they can turn into an asthma attack, which is a potentially life-threatening exacerbation of asthma symptoms. Thats why its so important to know the common signs of asthma, including the more subtle ones.

    These are classic asthma signs you should know:

  • Shortness of breath: This 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.

  • Cough: When an irritant gets into your throat or airways, it stimulates nerves that prompt your brain to make the muscles in your chest and abdomen expel air from your lungs with a cough, according to the Mayo Clinic. Since a sensitivity to irritants can cause asthma symptoms, coughing is a hallmark sign of this condition, says Dr. Benzaquen. In fact, its the most common sign of asthma Dr. Parikh has seen people ignore.

  • Some people may have these less common signs of asthma:

    Triggers For Asthma In Children

    Early Warning Signs of an Asthma Attack

    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.

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    A Hack That Will Not Go Away

    Cough identified with asthma doesnt disappear that effectively in those experiencing an intense respiratory condition. It very well may be caused because of aggravations that trigger asthma. Hacking can be more regrettable in winter and asthma assaults can be set off because of the seasonal infection. The hack set off in this condition is called hack variation asthma.

    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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    Can Masks Reduce Asthma Hospitalizations

    According to the CDC, people with moderate-to-severe uncontrolled asthma are more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19. While asthmatics arent at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, the virus can complicate asthma symptoms.

    Mask-wearing, proper hygiene, the COVID-19 vaccine and physical distancing can protect you from the virus and prevent hospitalization from asthma-related complications.

    Asthma Attack Causes And Symptoms

    What Is Asthma?

    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.

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    Know The Early Symptoms Of Asthma

    Early warning signs are changes that happen just before or at the very beginning of an asthma attack. These signs may start before the well-known symptoms of asthma and are the earliest signs that your asthma is worsening.

    In general, these signs are not severe enough to stop you from going about your daily activities. But by recognizing these signs, you can stop an asthma attack or prevent one from getting worse. Early warning signs of an asthma attack include:

    • Frequent cough, especially at night
    • Losing your breath easily or shortness of breath
    • Feeling very tired or weak when exercising

    If you have these warning signs, adjust your medication, as described in your asthma action plan.

    What Is Asthma Anyway

    First up, a little anatomy refresher: Your airways, which extend between your nose and mouth and your lungs, have the very important job of carrying air in and out of your body, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . When you have asthma, triggers like animal fur, pollen, mold, cold air, cigarette smoke, exercise, and respiratory infections like colds cause your airways to get inflamed, according to the NHLBI. That inflammation can cause swelling, which in turn can prompt the muscles around your airways to tighten, making it hard to get air in and out. At the same time, your airways might also expel more mucus than they usually do, making it even harder to breathe.

    Experts dont know exactly what causes some people to get asthma when others dont, but its pretty safe to assume that its probably a combination of environmental factors and genetic factors. For example, if someone in your immediate family has asthma, youre more likely to have it too, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Beyond that, the general cause is a stronger-than-normal response from your immune system to certain triggers, which is why you get all that inflammation when people without asthma dont, says the NHLBI.

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    Asthma Signs & Symptoms

    People with asthma experience symptoms due to inflammation in the airways. They might only occur when you encounter an asthma trigger. Common symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis of asthma include:

    • Persistent or recurring coughing: which often occurs at night or early in the morning, although it can happen at any time. Coughing is a major feature of asthma, especially in children and can sometimes be the only sign of asthma.
    • Wheezing: is difficulty breathing accompanied by a whistling sound coming from your airways
    • Shortness of breath: gives you the feeling that you cant get enough air into your lungs, and may even find it difficult to eat, sleep or speak
    • Chest tightness: an unpleasant sensation of heaviness or pressure in the chest that can make it hard to breathe
    • Increased mucus production: is characterized by high levels of thick fluid or phlegm accumulating in your airways
    • Difficulty breathing while exercising: having trouble breathing while performing physical activities can be a sign of asthma
    • Losing Sleep: Being unable to sleep through the night because of breathing troubles

    How Do Healthcare Providers Diagnose Asthma

    Asthma Symptoms: What Causes Asthma Attacks?

    Your healthcare provider will review your medical history, including information about your parents and siblings. Your provider will also ask you about your symptoms. Your provider will need to know any history of allergies, eczema and other lung diseases.

    Your healthcare provider may order a chest X-ray, blood test or skin test. Your provider may order spirometry. This test measures airflow through your lungs.

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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 it’s 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.

    Following the instructions in your child’s asthma action plan can help you know what to do when a flare-up happens.

    What Should I Do If I Have A Severe Asthma Attack

    A severe asthma attack needs immediate medical care. The first step is your rescue inhaler. A rescue inhaler uses fast-acting medicines to open up your airways. Its different than your normal maintenance inhaler, which you use every day. You should only use the rescue inhaler in an emergency.

    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.

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    My Personal Experience With Recognizing Warning Signs

    I can actually give an example here. I personally have a severe allergy to dust mites. When exposed to them I start sneezing, my chin itches, and I get chest tightness. These are my early warning signs. By heeding them, and getting away from dust mites right away, the symptoms usually go away on their own. However, if I wait too long, an asthma attack occurs, requiring me to resort to my Asthma Action Plan. So, I have learned through my own asthma experiences what my early warning signs are, and what to do when I observe them.

    Your job as an asthmatic is to learn your early warning signs and work with your doctor on an asthma management plan for what to do when you observe them. If actually wrote a more in-depth article on this subject if you are interested: “Symptoms and Signs: How Asthma Communicates.”

    Asthma: Signs Symptoms And Treatment

    Childhood Asthma
    • More than 8 million adults and nearly 2.3 million children suffered asthma attacks in 2019.
    • According to the Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention , approximately 8 percent of U.S. adults have asthma.
    • Asthma is more common among males than females.

    Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition affecting the airways in the lungs. There isnt a cure for asthma, but it is treatable. Symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe. If asthma interferes with your favorite activities or quality of life and youre looking for answers, this article is for you.

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    Asthma Information For Childcare Kinder Or School

    To assist childcare and preschool workers and school teachers in the care of your child with asthma:

    • Tell them that your child has asthma .
    • Provide them with a copy of your childs asthma action plan, including emergency contact details. Make sure you provide an updated plan every year, or if your childs medication changes.The school or childcare centre will require this for enrolment.
    • Show staff members how to use the medication devices, such as spacers and puffers.
    • Make sure your child has an up-to-date supply of medication and a spacer at the centre or school.
    • Notify staff if your childs asthma changes.
    • Tell the staff about any concerns you may have.

    When Should I Go To The Hospital

    Speak with your provider about the signs of a severe asthma attack and whether you should seek emergency medical attention. Work with your provider to develop a written asthma action plan that lists what steps should be taken if an attack worsens.

    People who are at a high risk of having a fatal attack should do an initial treatment and immediately seek medical help. The risk of death from asthma is higher if you:1

    • Had a previous severe attack requiring intubation or stay in intensive care
    • Had two or more hospital stays for asthma in the past year
    • Frequently visit the emergency department for asthma
    • Refill your rescue medication more than twice per month
    • Have heart disease or another chronic lung disease
    • Have trouble recognizing the signs of a serious attack
    • Use street drugs

    Signs of a severe attack that require initial treatment and immediate medical help are:1,6

    • Your inhaler is not helping
    • Your symptoms are getting worse
    • You feel short of breath when sitting
    • You can only speak in words, not using sentences or phrases
    • You feel agitated or drowsy
    • You hear loud wheezing on inhalation and exhalation
    • Your heart rate is above 120 beats per minute
    • Your fingers and lips are turning grey or blue
    • Your peak expiratory flow is less than 50% of personal best

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    What Triggers Asthma Cough

    Asthma cough is a type of cough that is characteristically dry and unproductive. It is most commonly triggered by allergies, and can occur in any season even without a seasonal allergy. It often precedes an asthma attack in sensitive people. While a cough is a symptom of asthma, it is rarely the predominant symptom..


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