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What Do You Do When You Have An Asthma Attack

Occupational Asthma Is Triggered By An Irritant Youre Exposed To At Work

If your asthma started when you changed jobs, improves when youre away from your work environment, or is triggered by chemicals that make it difficult to breathe, then you may be suffering from occupational asthma.

Occupational factors are associated with up to 15 percent of disabling asthma cases in the United States. An estimated 11 million workers in a wide range of industries are exposed to at least one of the numerous agents known to be associated with occupational asthma. 

More than 250 manufacturing substances have been known to exacerbate occupational asthma, such as:

  • Paints

Symptoms After An Asthma Attack

How you feel after an asthma attack will depend on how severe the attack was and what triggered it.

If the attack was triggered by an irritant, such as cold weather, pollutants or allergens such as pollen, animal fur or dust, you should recover relatively quickly.

If your asthma attack was caused by an infection, such an upper airway infection, then it might take longer for you to recover. You may have symptoms such as fatigue and exhaustion after your asthma attack.

Do follow any recovery guidance given to you by a doctor or medical professional. Rest, drink plenty of fluids, take your medication and attend any necessary follow-up appointments.

If you havent seen your doctor or asthma nurse for a routine appointment recently, book one as soon as possible.

What Asthma Treatment Options Are There

You have options to help manage your asthma. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to control symptoms. These include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines: These medicines reduce swelling and mucus production in your airways. They make it easier for air to enter and exit your lungs. Your healthcare provider may prescribe them to take every day to control or prevent your symptoms.
  • Bronchodilators: These medicines relax the muscles around your airways. The relaxed muscles let the airways move air. They also let mucus move more easily through the airways. These medicines relieve your symptoms when they happen.
  • Biologic therapies for asthma when symptoms persist despite being on proper inhaler therapy.

You can take asthma medicines in several different ways. You may breathe in the medicines using a metered-dose inhaler, nebulizer or other inhaler. Your healthcare provider may prescribe oral medications that you swallow.

After An Asthma Attack: What To Do At Home

“How quickly you recover at home depends on how severe your attack was and what triggered it,” said Khatri. “If your attack was caused by an irritant, you should recover quickly. If your attack was caused by an infection, it may take a few days.” In either case, you should follow all of your doctor’s instructions, keep your follow-up appointments, rest, and drink plenty of fluids as you gradually return to normal activities.

However, you should get some help for an asthma attack or after an asthma attack if:

  • Your asthma symptoms get worse
  • Your peak flow numbers are not getting better or are going down
  • You are struggling to walk or talk because of trouble breathing
  • You are struggling to breathe
  • Your quick-relief medicine is not helping
  • Your lips or fingernails turn blue

What Is An Asthma Action Plan

Asthma UK on Twitter: "Everyone needs to know what to do ...

Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop an asthma action plan. This plan tells you how and when to use your medicines. It also tells you what to do if your asthma gets worse and when to seek emergency care. Understand the plan and ask your healthcare provider about anything you dont understand.

Follow Your Asthma Action Plan And Keep It Updated

Its a good idea to have an asthma action plan. This plan should include what medication you should take, what are your possible triggers , and what emergency steps youll take during an asthma attack. Its important to know what the action items are for when you need them.

This plan should also be that might happen in your life. For example, if you start taking a different type of medicine or develop a food allergy.

It can also be helpful to have your loved one, close friend or colleague know about your plan so they can help out when needed. If possible, send them a copy of your asthma action plan.

How To Help Someone Having An Asthma Attack

This article was medically reviewed by Daniel Wozniczka, MD, MPH. Dr. Wozniczka is an Internal Medicine Physician in Chicago, with global healthcare experience in Sub Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. He completed his MD at Jagiellonian University in 2014, and also holds an MBA and Masters in Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 20,530 times.

Having an asthma attack can be frightening. It can also be frightening to see someone you know, or even a stranger, have an asthma attack. The person may be panicking, especially if they do not have their inhaler. Fortunately, you can help! Assist someone having an asthma attack by getting the appropriate medical assistance, helping them to remain calm, and using simple techniques to help improve their breathing.

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

What Should I Do If My Friend Is Having An Asthma Attack

What should I do if my friend is having an asthma attack? Zahara*

An asthma flare-up can be scary, both for the person having it and anyone who sees it happening. A friend who knows how to handle the situation can be a big help.

Heres what to do:

  • Stay calm and be reassuring. Help your friend relax. If someone who is having a flare-up panics, it can make it even harder to breathe.
  • Take your friend away from any possible asthma , like .
  • Have your friend sit upright. Lying down might make breathing more difficult.
  • If your friend can talk, ask what his or her asthma action plan says to do during a flare-up. If your friend is able to tell you, follow the plan.
  • If your friend cant speak or doesnt remember what to do, ask if he or she has an inhaler to use during flare-ups. If so, get the inhaler and help your friend to use it.
  • the inhaler doesnt help
  • the inhaler helps at first but then your friend gets worse again
  • an inhaler is not available
  • your friend is having trouble talking or is struggling to breathe
  • your friends lips are turning blue
  • your friend becomes unconscious

Friends can be the first line of defense for someone who is having an asthma flare-up. So its great that you want to be prepared!

Date reviewed: May 2014

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

Note: All information on KidsHealth is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

With Nocturnal Asthma Symptoms Are Worse At Night

You may notice that your asthma symptoms worsen at night.

Classified as nocturnal asthma, this type involves the same symptoms as other types of asthma, but they are exacerbated during the evening hours: 

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Inflammation of airway

In a series of surveys of asthmatic patients from different countries, nocturnal asthmatic symptoms were reported in 47 to 75 percent of cases. No matter which type of asthma you have, you may experience difficulties breathing at night. 

It’s unclear whether or not there is a circadian rhythm factor or an additional aspect of sleep that makes asthmatic symptoms worse. Some triggers that may make asthmatic symptoms worse in the evening include:

  • Having a cold, flu, or virus
  • Dust or other allergens
  • Acid reflux
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs or pain relievers or beta-blockers

Nocturnal asthma has been shown to negatively affect mental performance in children. A study published in the Archives of Diseases in Children found that children whose sleep was disturbed by nocturnal asthma also exhibited signs of psychological problems and impaired functioning in school. 

Fortunately, researchers found that mental function improved when asthma symptoms were treated.

Side Effects Of Steroid Tablets

Oral steroids carry a risk if they are taken for more than three months or if they are taken frequently . Side effects can include:

  • easy bruising  
  • muscle weakness

With the exception of increased appetite, which is very commonly experienced by people taking oral steroids, most of these unwanted effects are uncommon.

However, it is a good idea to keep an eye out for them regularly, especially side effects that are not immediately obvious, such as high blood pressure, thinning of the bones, diabetes and glaucoma.

You will need regular appointments to check for these.

Want to know more?

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 Is Asthma Treated

Asthma UK on Twitter: "Do you know what to do if someone ...

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.

How Do You Stop An Asthma Attack Without An Inhaler

If you are diagnosed with asthma, you should make sure you have an inhaler with you at all times. However, if a worst case scenario occurs and you experience when you dont have a reliever inhaler with you, there are practical steps you can take to ease your symptoms.

  • Stay as calm as you can find a way to reduce any anxiety, such as holding someones hand or playing music
  • Sit upright this will help keep your airways open
  • Breathe slowly and deeply slowing down your breathing can reduce the risk of hyperventilating
  • If something appears to have triggered your asthma, such as breathing in cold air or being exposed to smoke, move away from the trigger
  • Try breathing exercises the pursed lip breathing technique can help you deal with shortness of breath
  • Have a drink containing caffeine there is some to suggest that caffeine can help improve airway function for up to four hours.

Asthma can be a life-threatening condition, so at the very least, aim to keep a spare reliever inhaler in your handbag, locker at work or coat pocket.

Tips For When You Dont Have An Inhaler

Mild to moderate asthma attacks can occur at inopportune times. You may be able to manage your asthma more effectively with these tips. If these dont work CALL AN AMBULANCE.

 

  • Sit upright. This opens your airway. Dont bend over or lie down, as doing this constricts your airway even more.
  • Slow down your breathing by taking long, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose. Exhale through your mouth. You want to prevent hyperventilation.
  • Stay calm. Anxiety tightens your chest and back muscles, which makes it more difficult to breathe.
  • Get away from the trigger. If you can get away from your trigger, do so. Move into clean air, preferably an air-conditioned environment, and try to take slow, deep breaths once youre in a safe place.
  • Drink a warm, caffeinated beverage, such as coffee or tea. Caffeine has similar properties to some asthma medications and can help temporarily improve airway functions.  
  • Get medical help. If you cant get the wheezing, coughing or breathing difficulties under control, its important to get help.
  •  

    Book An Urgent Appointment With Your Gp Or Asthma Nurse

    Tell reception you need an urgent appointment because you’ve had an asthma attack. Book an appointment even if you feel better now. And even if youve been started on treatment for your asthma attack.

    Even if youre OK now you still need a check-up from your GP or asthma nurse to make sure youre not at risk from another attack.

    You need an urgent same day appointment if:

    You need an urgent appointment within two working days if: 

    • you were treated in hospital or by paramedics in the ambulance
    • you needed to use any of your ‘rescue pack’ of steroid tablets to deal with your worsening asthma symptoms.

    If you had an asthma attack but didn’t see your GP at the time it is still important to see your doctor or asthma nurse now, says Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UKs in-house GP.

    Your asthma may still not be well controlled and you could be at risk of another asthma attack.

    Recover more quickly from an asthma attack with support from your GP

    Even though you may have dealt with your asthma attack at home, or been treated for it in hospital, its still important to see your GP or asthma nurse after having an asthma attack.

    Your GP or asthma nurse can support your recovery and lower your risk of another attack.

    They can:  

    check your medicines to see if youre on the best dose for you, and that youre taking your inhalers in the right way.

    Severe Asthma Typically Requires A Combination Approach To Treatment

    If someone experiences asthma symptoms more than twice a week, their asthma is termed persistent. And among those with persistent asthma, doctors further categorize the condition as mild, intermediate, or severe.

    The symptoms of severe asthma are similar to those of mild asthma, theyre just more frequent and more severe, and require more medications to keep them under control, says Emily Pennington, MD, a pulmonologist and asthma specialist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.    

    Often, if someones symptoms require a combination of asthma medications  such as high-dose inhaled corticosteroids as well as longer-acting drugs that persons asthma is termed severe. The same term applies to people who dont respond well to treatment. 

    We dont entirely understand why some people dont respond as well to medication, Dr. Pennington says. Genetic and underlying molecular factors are likely explanations, she says, but the exact causes of severe asthma are complex and likely vary from one person to the next.

    Theres also an informal term, uncontrolled asthma, that refers to people whose asthma symptoms are not well managed. This can happen for a number of reasons: 

    • Other conditions, such as heart disease, that make asthma hard to manage
    • Lifestyle choices, such as the decision to smoke cigarettes, that exacerbate asthma symptoms 
    • Not following a doctors advice or guidelines when taking medications

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    The Four Things You Should Do Immediately If You Suffer An Asthma Attack

    Knowing what to do when you have an attack could be the difference between life and death

    • Andrea Downey

      HAVING an asthma attack can be scary.

      They leave you gasping for breath, with many sufferers describing it as feeling like a pillow is being held over their face.

      It’s an inconvenience some 5.4 million Brits who suffer from could face each day.

      And knowing what to do when you have an attack could be the difference between life and death.

      If you have asthma you should carry your reliever inhaler with you at all times, as well as use a preventative inhaler.

      But they don’t always protect against asthma attacks.

      Move Away From Triggers

      The presence of asthma triggers wont only cause an attack, they can also make your symptoms worse. Be sure to try to get away from things that may be triggering your asthma attack.

      For example, if youre in an area where people are smoking cigarettes, you should move away promptly.

      Its also important to know your triggers. Common triggers include:

      • , such as pet dander, pollen, or certain foods

      You should always be sure to seek immediate emergency medical treatment if you experience any of the following symptoms during an asthma attack:

      • your symptoms continue to get worse even after treatment
      • you cant speak except in short words or phrases
      • youre straining your chest muscles in an effort to breathe
      • your shortness of breath or wheezing is severe, particularly in the early morning or late-night hours
      • you begin to feel drowsy or tired
      • your lips or face appear blue when youre not coughing

      Symptoms that indicate that you could be experiencing an asthma attack include:

      • severe shortness of breath

      What Is Good Asthma Care

      Your doctor or nurse will tailor your asthma treatment to your symptoms. Sometimes you may need to be on higher levels of medication than at others.

      You should be offered:

      • care at your GP surgery provided by doctors and nurses trained in asthma management
      • full information about your condition and how to control it
      • involvement in making decisions about your treatment
      • regular checks to ensure your asthma is under control and your treatment is right for you
      • a written personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor or nurse

      It is also important that your GP or pharmacist teaches you how to properly use your inhaler, as this is an important part of good asthma care.

      What To Do In A Severe Asthma Attack Emergency

      If your child has an asthma attack

      Dayle Davenport, MD

        When you are having a severe attack, first things first: Follow the instructions in your asthma action plan for dealing with an emergency. To be prepared, it’s also important that you always carry with you your rescue inhaler and spacer device or portable nebulizer if required.

        When To Call 999

        Dont delay getting help if you have an asthma attack. Call 999 if your reliever isnt helping, or lasting four hours, or youre worried at any time.

        An asthma attack is a real emergency, and could be life-threatening, says Asthma UKs in-house GP, Dr Andy Whittamore.

        Getting help when you need it is so important, to make sure youre treated quickly. Never think youre wasting anyones time.

        Asthma Attack Triggers And How To Prevent Them

        SingleCare TeamAnis Rehman, MD

        If youve ever had an asthma attack, you know how scary it can be when your chest tightens, making it difficult to take breaths between coughing. These are just some of the symptoms that characterize an asthma attack. Asthma attacks can be triggered by many things, making it all the more frightening when you suddenly cant breathe.

        Understanding what triggers your asthma is the first step toward preventing an asthma attack. Well explain what you need to know about common asthma attack triggers, so you can do your best to prevent symptoms from interrupting your everyday life.  

        What To Do After An Asthma Attack

        An asthma attack can be a learning experience if you and your doctor use it to refine your asthma action plan. Get some tips on what to do after an asthma attack.

        An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms that causes your air passages to become smaller and makes your breathing more difficult. Symptoms of an asthma attack may include difficult and painful breathing, coughing, and . Anyone with asthma needs to have a plan for what to do during an asthma attack. But you should also know what to do after an asthma attack.

        “You can’t always avoid an asthma attack, but you can check in with your doctor and use an asthma attack as a way to improve your asthma management,” said Jonathan Bernstein, MD, an associate professor in allergy and asthma at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center. “In some cases, an asthma attack may be an indication that you need to make some changes.”

        Seeing your doctor after an asthma attack is especially important if you are newly diagnosed. “Discussing the attack with your doctor can help you learn more about your asthma and empower you to manage your asthma better in the future,” said Sumita Khatri, MD, co-director of the asthma center at the Cleveland Clinic.

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        • Don’t have written asthma action plan from your doctor
        • Use an inhaler, but don’t have a spacer
        • Miss more than 1 day of school per month for asthma
        • Asthma limits exercise or sports
        • Asthma attacks wake child up from sleep
        • Use more than 1 inhaler per month
        • No asthma check-up in more than 1 year
        • You have other questions or concerns

        How Can You Tell If You Have Asthma

        It can be hard to tell if someone has asthma, especially in children under age 5. Having a doctor check how well your lungs work and check for allergies can help you find out if you have asthma.

        During a checkup, a doctor will ask if you cough a lot, especially at night. He or she will also ask whether your breathing problems are worse after physical activity or at certain times of year. The doctor will then ask about chest tightness, wheezing, and colds lasting more than 10 days. He or she will ask whether anyone in your family has or has had asthma, allergies, or other breathing problems. Finally, the doctor will ask questions about your home and whether you have missed school or work or have trouble doing certain things.

        The doctor may also do a breathing test, called spirometry, to find out how well your lungs are working by testing how much air you can breathe out after taking a very deep breath before and after you use asthma medicine.

        Learn First Aid For Someone Who Is Having An Asthma Attack

        1. Help the person sit in a comfortable position and take their inhaler.

        When someone has an asthma attack, their airways narrow, making it difficult for them to breathe. An inhaler relaxes the muscles, allowing the airways to expand and ease their breathing.

        2. Reassure the person. If the attack becomes severe, or they don’t have their inhaler, call 999 as soon as possible.

        A mild attack should ease within a few minutes. If it doesnt, they can continue to take their inhaler. You should call 999 if they they dont have their inhaler, their inhaler has no effect, they are becoming worse or they become unable to talk. Do not leave them, in case the attack becomes severe quickly. If you cant call 999, get someone else to do it.  

        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.

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