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What Does An Asthma Attack Feel Like

How Will You Describe An Asthma Attack

Asthma Attack, What Does It Feel Like?

If you ask this question to n number to asthmatics, you will get n number of different answers. Mostly people do not have the same feelings regarding an asthma attack. It is very true that asthma varies from person to person and so does its symptoms. In fact, a single person can get different types of asthma attacks. So, let us check out how do people define their feelings regarding an asthma attack

There is a huge weight on my chest.

Can you imagine a huge weight, probably an elephant sitting on someones chest and squashing them hard? Exactly that feeling. The weight feels so heavy that there is hardly any space for the air to get in and out. It is very difficult to breathe, no matter what position you are in.

I feel like Im drowning.

This is the most common answer that asthmatics give. The attack feels like you are drowning, you are trying hard to breathe but it is impossible. This suffocation is terrible and dreadful.

It is impossible to catch the breath as I cough so much.

Normally, coughing makes people short of breath. Coughing out the mucus in lungs really makes breathing difficult. It is also possible to get short of breath if you are having a ticklish feeling in your lungs.

There is a tight feeling inside the chest.

It is like you are wearing extremely tight clothes and trying to breathe through a straw. You struggle to take in air and it does not go in. People gasp for breath in such times. This tight feeling is due to the airway tightening.

Know The Asthma Symptoms In Children

Asthma affects as many as 10% to 12% of children in the United States and is the leading cause of chronic illness in children. For unknown reasons, the incidence of asthma in children is steadily increasing. While asthma symptoms can begin at any age, most children have their first asthma symptoms by age 5.

Not all children with asthma wheeze. Chronic coughing with asthma may be the only obvious sign, and a childâs asthma may go unrecognized if the cough is attributed to recurrent bronchitis.

For more detail, see WebMDâs Asthma in Children.

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What Does Asthma Feel Like

Asthma is characterized by inflammation of the bronchial tubes with increased production of sticky secretions inside the tubes. People with asthma experience symptoms when the airways tighten, inflame, or fill with mucus. Common asthma symptoms include:

  • Coughing, especially at night
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness, pain, or pressure

Still, not every person with asthma has the same symptoms in the same way. You may not have all of these symptoms, or you may have different symptoms at different times. Your asthma symptoms may also vary from one asthma attack to the next, being mild during one and severe during another.

Some people with asthma may go for extended periods without having any symptoms, interrupted by periodic worsening of their symptoms called asthma attacks. Others might have asthma symptoms every day. In addition, some people may only have asthma during exercise, or asthma with viral infections like colds.

Mild asthma attacks are generally more common. Usually, the airways open up within a few minutes to a few hours. Severe attacks are less common but last longer and require immediate medical help. It is important to recognize and treat even mild asthma symptoms to help you prevent severe episodes and keep asthma under better control.

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How Do You Monitor Asthma Symptoms

Monitoring your asthma symptoms is an essential piece of managing the disease. Your healthcare provider may have you use a peak flow meter. This device measures how fast you can blow air out of your lungs. It can help your provider make adjustments to your medication. It also tells you if your symptoms are getting worse.

What Should I Do If I Have A Severe Asthma Attack

All You Need To Know About Asthma Attack And It

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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What Is A Silent Chest In Asthma

As your lungs continue to tighten during the asthma attack, you may be unable to use the peak flow meter at all. Gradually, your lungs may tighten so much during the asthma attack that there is not enough air movement to produce wheezing. This is sometimes called the silent chest, and it is a dangerous sign.

What Are Common Asthma Attack Triggers

An asthma attack happens when someone comes in contact with substances that irritate them. Healthcare providers call these substances triggers. Knowing what triggers your asthma makes it easier to avoid asthma attacks.

For some people, a trigger can bring on an attack right away. Sometimes, an attack may start hours or days later.

Triggers can be different for each person. But some common triggers include:

  • Air pollution: Many things outside can cause an asthma attack. Air pollution includes factory emissions, car exhaust, wildfire smoke and more.
  • Dust mites: You cant see these bugs, but they are in many homes. If you have a dust mite allergy, they can cause an asthma attack.
  • Exercise: For some people, exercising can cause an attack.
  • Mold: Damp places can spawn mold. It can cause problems for people with asthma. You dont even have to be allergic to mold to have an attack.
  • Pests: Cockroaches, mice and other household pests can cause asthma attacks.
  • Pets: Your pets can cause asthma attacks. If youre allergic to pet dander , breathing in the dander can irritate your airways.
  • Tobacco smoke: If you or someone in your home smokes, you have a higher risk of developing asthma. The best solution is to quit smoking.
  • Strong chemicals or smells.

With asthma, you may not have all of these symptoms. You may have different signs at different times. And symptoms can change between asthma attacks.

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When To See A Doctor:

Most people dont go to the doctor for a little coughing or mild allergies, but asthma isnt always easy to diagnose, and if you think you might have it, its important to find out. If you find yourself having repeated periods of breathlessness, coughing, or wheezing, you should speak with your doctor. This is especially true if theres no apparent reason for these episodes, or if seemingly minor activities trigger them.

Your doctor will likely be able to diagnose your asthma, but you may be referred to a lung or asthma specialist for more specific treatment. If youre worried about your lung health, you may find this article about checking your lung health at home helpful.

What Is Normal Breathing

Asthma Attack, What Does This Feel Like?

When most of us breathe, the muscles that are wrapped around the air tubes are very loose and relaxed, and the lining inside the airways is very thin. This lets the airways open up very wide so that it is easy to get air in and out of the small air sacs that make up our lungs. These small sacs are called alveoli . When air moves in and out of our lungs, we call it breathing.

The picture below shows what your lungs look like when everything is working normally. The muscles wrapped around the airways are very thin and loose, and the airway is wide open. This makes it easy to move air in and out of the air sacs.

The animation below shows normal breathing. As we breathe in, air that contains lots of oxygen is pulled into the lungs. This oxygen slowly moves from the lungs into the blood. Then air that contains carbon dioxide is pushed back out through the lungs as we breathe out. When things are working normally, the amount of air we breathe in is about the same as the amount of air we breathe out.

What lungs look like during normal breathing

When you are breathing normally, it takes about the same amount of time to breathe in as it does to breathe out .

During an asthma attack, it is harder and takes much longer to breathe out than to breathe in . Since it is so hard to breathe out during an asthma attack, more and more air gets trapped inside the lungs making it feel like you cant breathe in or out!

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Allergies Trigger My Asthma Symptoms

I have allergic asthma that mostly causes asthma symptoms during the allergy season in the spring. I normally have a couple of asthma attacks a year. I have sometimes had asthma attacks during the night as well or if I have spent time in a place full of dust or mold. Besides pollen allergy, I have several food allergies, too.

When I get an asthma attack, first I feel my throat tighten and my breathing becomes difficult. Then comes the panic.

I think that often my asthma and allergies are mixed and sometimes its hard to tell whether my symptoms are purely caused by asthma or more by a severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis normally means a need for calling an ambulance. I also carry an Epipen with me.

Once I was having a breakfast at a hotel when I started to cough a lot. I felt that I couldnt breathe because my throat was swelling up. Even the inhaler didnt seem to help much because I couldnt inhale enough. It was probably an allergic reaction that led to an asthma attack. It took several hours to recover after it.

I am mindful of my asthma triggers but dont let the asthma itself limit my life. Normally the reliever inhaler comes to the rescue and makes me feel better. I tend to panic easily, so I try to stay calm and remember that the attacks always pass even though at that moment it can feel terrifying.

Woman, 35

What Happens During An Asthma Flare

During a flare-up, you might have:

  • trouble breathing
  • a whistling sound when you breathe
  • a cough

Flare-ups happen when the airways in the lungs get more irritated and swollen than usual. Your lungs might make a sticky mucus, which clogs the airways. The muscles around the airways will also tighten up, making them really narrow. This clogging and narrowing make it tough to pull air in and push air out.

Some flare-ups are mild, but others are serious. If the flare-up is severe, a person might:

  • struggle to breathe or have fast breathing even when sitting still
  • not be able to speak more than a few words at a time without pausing
  • have retractions while breathing in

Flare-ups can happen suddenly. They also can build up over time, especially if you haven’t been taking your asthma medicine.

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Can Asthma Be Prevented

Asthma cant be prevented entirely, but there are some practical ways to reduce the risk of an asthma attack and live well with asthma.

  • Get vaccinated for influenza: flu and other respiratory viruses are common triggers for asthma.
  • Manage any allergies: asthma and allergies are closely linked, so treating allergic rhinitis and avoiding or managing any allergy triggers will help with your asthma.
  • Live smoke-free: quit smoking if you smoke, and avoid any second-hand smoke .
  • Eat well: a balanced diet helps you to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese makes asthma harder to manage.
  • Care for yourself: mental health and asthma are linked, so let a trusted friend or your doctor know if you have been feeling sad or anxious, or dont enjoy things as much as before.
  • See your doctor regularly: asthma needs to be regularly assessed and managed, and your medication needs may change over time. Ensure your asthma action plan is up to date by checking in with your doctor regularly.

What Is An Asthma Flare

How to Treat Asthma Attacks in Kids

An asthma flare-up is when the symptoms are more adverse than usual. These flare-ups are more chronic asthma attacks that typically dont self-resolve and call for enhanced treatment.

An asthma flare-up can quickly spiral out of control or worsen over time. However, its essential to seek treatment as soon as possible.

  • Constant and adverse asthma symptoms

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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?

What Are The Symptoms Of Asthma

While symptoms vary from person to person, the most common signs of mild asthma include:

  • difficulty breathing feeling breathless, even while resting, or being unable to finish full sentences before needing to take another breath
  • wheezing making a whistling sound while breathing
  • coughing either at specific times or after certain activities

During a severe asthma attack, you may notice more serious symptoms, such as:

  • feeling very distressed, exhausted or even limp from trying to breathe
  • deep sucking motions at the throat or chest while trying to breathe

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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.


Allergies Can Cause Asthma

What Asthma Looks and Feels Like

Allergies with asthma is a common problem. Eighty percent of people with asthma have allergies to things in the air, like tree, grass, and weed pollens mold animal dander dust mites and cockroach droppings. In one study, children with high levels of cockroach droppings in their homes were four times more likely to have childhood asthma than children with low levels. An allergy to dust mites is another common asthma trigger.

If you have asthma thatâs hard to control, see an allergist to find out if you have allergies. Treating your allergies with medication and avoiding your triggers can help lower the odds of a severe asthma attack.

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Learning To Live With Asthma

When my doctor first diagnosed me with asthma, I started taking the medications he prescribed. He gave me a tablet called Singulair to take once a day. I also had to use a Flovent inhaler twice a day. He prescribed a stronger inhaler containing albuterol for me to use when I was having an attack or dealing with sudden bursts of cold weather.

At first, things went well. I wasnt always diligent about taking the medication, though. This led to a few visits to the emergency room when I was a kid. As I got older, I was able to settle into the routine. I began having attacks less frequently. When I did have them, they werent as severe.

I moved away from strenuous sports and stopped playing soccer. I also started spending less time outside. Instead, I began doing yoga, running on a treadmill, and lifting weights indoors. This new exercise regimen lead to fewer asthma attacks during my teen years.

I went to college in New York City, and I had to learn how to get around in the ever-changing weather. I went through a particularly stressful time during my third year of school. I stopped taking my medications regularly and often dressed improperly for the weather. One time I even wore shorts in 40° weather. Eventually, it all caught up to me.

Can Asthma Reappear In Adults After Disappearing Years Ago

Asthma is usually diagnosed in childhood. In many patients however, the symptoms will disappear or are significantly reduced after puberty. After age 20, symptoms may begin to reappear.

Researchers have tracked this tendency for reappearing asthma and found that people with childhood asthma tend to experience reappearing symptoms through their 30s and 40s at various levels of severity.

Regardless of whether your asthma is active, you should continue to avoid your known triggers and keep your rescue medications or prescriptions up-to-date and handy in case you need them.

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