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What Happens When Asthma Flares Up

Your Chest Constantly Feels Tight

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Minor chest tightness is common for people with asthma. But frequent and intense chest tightness can mean your severe asthma is getting worse.

Chest tightness is often the result of the muscles surrounding your airways contracting in reaction to asthma triggers. It may feel as though theres something squeezing or sitting on top of your chest.

People On Your Asthma Healthcare Team May Include:

  • Your doctor you may have a family doctor and a respirologist
  • Your nurse
  • Your pharmacist
  • Your certified asthma educator or certified respiratory educator : Certified asthma educators and certified respiratory educators are respiratory therapists, nurses, pharmacist, or physiotherapists who have special training to teach people about asthma. They are experts at explaining how asthma affects you and what you can do about it. To find a Certified Asthma Educator or Certified Respiratory Educator, ask your local Lung Association or your doctor. Or look for an asthma education clinic near you search our online database of asthma programs and clinics.

What Can You Do If Your Child Has Been Diagnosed With Asthma

If your child has just been diagnosed with asthma, know that you are not alone. Asthma Canada and your healthcare team have many available to you.

  • Start by learning as much as you can about the . Work closely with your childs healthcare provider to monitor your childs asthma symptoms. Ask questions and clarify any information you are unsure about.
  • Reach out to Asthma Canadas FREE Asthma & Allergy HelpLine to speak with a Certified Respiratory Educator.
  • Begin keeping a diary to keep track of what non-allergic affect your childs asthma. This will help you identify your childs triggers, and develop strategies to avoid them.
  • Learn all you can about your childs . This includes possible side effects of medication and the appropriate technique for administering medication.
  • Ask you healthcare provider about developing a Kids Asthma Action Plan. And Asthma Action Plan monitors asthma symptoms and has a written plan to follow when symptoms change.
  • Join Asthma Canadas membership alliance to connect with other Canadians living with asthma or impacted by asthma.

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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 Are The Symptoms Of An Asthma Attack

Asthma Flare Ups in Children

The most common symptoms include:

Mild to Severe

  • Disrupted sleep due to asthma symptoms & breathing difficulty
  • Daytime symptoms 4 or more times per week
  • Inability to exercise normally without breathing issues
  • Getting a cold/flu

If you experience any of the above symptoms, book an urgent appointment with your healthcare provider. An asthma attack could be on its way. The timely help can prevent dangerous consequences.


  • Sweating

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What Does Asthma Pain Feel Like

If you have asthma, a respiratory condition that causes breathing difficulties, you might experience chest pain. This symptom is common right before or during an asthma attack. The discomfort may feel like a dull ache or a sharp, stabbing pain. Some describe it as if they have a heavy brick sitting on their chest.

How Do I Know If My Infant Or Child Has Severe Asthma

If you are concerned that your infant or childs asthma may be severe, observe their behavior for the indicators below and speak to your healthcare provider right away.

Observe your infant for any of the following indicators of Severe Asthma:

  • Sits up, refuses to lie down
  • Stops feeding
  • Pale or bluish-looking skin anywhere
  • Irritable
  • Rapid breathing
  • Using accessory muscles of breathing-in, drawing of muscles at the neck when breathing it may look like the skin is being tugged in. If you see this, your child must be assessed by a healthcare provider.

Observe your child for any of the following indicators of Severe Asthma:

  • Pale looking or bluish looking skin- anywhere
  • Breathless
  • Irritable
  • Peak flow less than 50% of personal best
  • Using accessory muscles of breathing-in, drawing of muscles at the neck when breathing it may look like the skin is being tugged in. If you see this, your child must be assessed by a healthcare provider.

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What Do I Do If I Have An Asthma Attack

If you or a loved one is having an asthma attack and the symptoms donât get better quickly after following the asthma action plan, follow the “red zone” or emergency instructions and contact your doctor or right away. You need urgent medical attention.

1. Give asthma first aid.

If the person doesn’t have an asthma plan:

  • Sit them upright comfortably and loosen tight clothing.
  • If the person has asthma medication, such as an inhaler, help them take it.
  • If the person doesnât have an inhaler, use one from a first aid kit. Do not borrow someone elseâs. The medicine in it may be different than the needed rescue medicine. Also, using someone else’s inhaler has a slight risk of passing on an infection.

2. Use an inhaler with a spacer, if possible.

  • Remove the cap and shake the inhaler well.
  • Insert the inhaler into the spacer.
  • Have the person breathe out completely and put their mouth tightly around the spacer mouthpiece.
  • Press the inhaler once to deliver a puff.
  • Have the person breathe in slowly through their mouth and hold their breath for 10 seconds.
  • Give a total of four puffs, waiting about a minute between each puff.

3. Use an inhaler without a spacer, if necessary.

4. Continue using the inhaler if breathing is still a problem.

5. Monitor the person until help arrives.

  • Do not mistake drowsiness as a sign of improvement; it could mean asthma is getting worse.
  • Do not assume that the personâs asthma is improving if you no longer hear wheezing.

6. Follow up.

How Can I Prevent Asthma Flare

What happens during an Asthma Attack (flare)?

Asthma flare-ups can be handled, but it’s even better if you can prevent them from happening. To do that:

  • Take asthma medicines as directed. If your doctor prescribed a long-term control medicine, take it each day, even when you feel fine. It needs to be taken exactly as your doctor tells you to keep protecting you against flare-ups.
  • Get a flu shot each year before flu season starts.
  • Avoid triggers. By knowing and avoiding your triggers, you might be able to prevent some flare-ups.

It’s important to plan ahead and know what to do. Work with your doctor to build and update your asthma action plan. That way, you know what to do if a flare-up happens and you’re in control if things get serious.

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A Typical Treatment Plan

A common treatment plan for a typical person with moderate asthma is:

  • A preventer inhaler , taken each morning and at bedtime. This usually prevents symptoms throughout the day and night.
  • A reliever inhaler may be needed now and then if breakthrough symptoms occur. For example, if symptoms flare up when you have a cough or cold.
  • If exercise or sport causes symptoms then a dose of a reliever inhaler just before the exercise usually prevents symptoms.
  • The dose of the preventer inhaler may need to be increased for a while if you have a cough or cold, or during the hay fever season.
  • Some people may need to add in an LTRA and/or a long-acting bronchodilator if symptoms are not controlled with the above.

At first, adjusting doses of inhalers is usually done on the advice of a doctor or nurse. In time, you may agree an asthma action plan with your doctor or nurse.

After An Asthma Attack

You should see a GP or asthma nurse within 48 hours of leaving hospital, or ideally on the same day if you did not need hospital treatment.

About 1 in 6 people treated in hospital for an asthma attack need hospital care again within 2 weeks, so it’s important to discuss how you can reduce your risk of future attacks.

Talk to a doctor or nurse about any changes that may need to be made to manage your condition safely.

For example, the dose of your treatment may need to be adjusted or you may need to be shown how to use your inhaler correctly.

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What To Do Immediately If I Have An Asthma Attack

This entry was posted on Monday, June 20th, 2016 and is filed under by AENT Associates

While asthma attacks may range in severity from mild to severe, affected breathing can be scary. Fortunately, there are medications you can take to reduce airway inflammation. Even if you dont have these handy, there are several things you can do to get your breathing on track after an asthma attack.

Step 1: Recognizing Your Attack

Not all asthma attacks have classic symptoms. Many of our Houston-area patients have experienced breathing difficulties for some time without realizing that asthma was the cause. The most common symptoms of an asthma attack are:

  • Coughing
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Wheezing, a high-pitched sound that occurs when your airways get tighter.

You may notice these symptoms come on with exercise, stress, or exposure to a particular allergen, like a dog, smoke, or a certain kind of plant.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, asthma attacks can last from minutes to several days. ;Seeking help and treating the attack can help you breathe better and be prepared if it happens again.

Step 2: Stay Calm

If your symptoms get worse instead of better, seek emergency medical treatment. An emergency center can administer additional medications to stop the inflammation thats affecting your breathing.

Step 3: Remove Yourself from Your Trigger

Step 4: Create a Preventive Plan

And Heres What You Can Expect With Treatment Which Is Generally Either Long

What Is an Asthma Flare

One of the most important ways to treat asthma is to avoid being exposed to your triggers, Dr. Wilgus says. Of course, that can feel impossible if your trigger is something thats seemingly everywhere, like dust or pollen. Though you can definitely take steps to reduce your exposure to those, avoiding them entirely is tough. Luckily, there are medications that can help when youve done everything you can trigger-wise.

Asthma medications generally fall into two categories: long-term preventive medications and fast-acting drugs that can help when youre having an asthma attack or on your way to one. Long-term preventive medications like allergy medications and inhaled anti-inflammatory corticosteroids are designed to help control your asthma so youre less likely to have an asthma attack in the first place, the Mayo Clinic says. Quick-relief medications , like short-acting beta agonists that you use via an inhaler, can help relax your airways when theyre acting up enough that your asthma is noticeably worse.

Whatever you do, dont resign yourself to living with asthma symptoms like trouble breathing and coughing all the time. Asthma is a very controllable illness as long as the signs and symptoms are not ignored, Dr. Parikh says.


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Can You Have Asthma And Bronchitis At The Same Time

People with asthma can also have acute bronchitis. They may notice their asthma symptoms become worse as a consequence. They may experience:

  • shortness of breath
  • wheezing
  • pain and discomfort when breathing

Sometimes, people with severe bronchitis and asthma may have to go to the hospital because mucus has clogged the airways into their lungs so much.

What’s An Asthma Flare

An asthma flare-up is when asthma symptoms get worse, making someone wheeze, cough, or be short of breath. An asthma flare-up can happen even when asthma is controlled.

Asthma flare-ups are also called asthma attacks or exacerbations.

Triggers like allergies, respiratory infections , cigarette smoke, exercise, or even cold air can cause a flare-up and make asthma symptoms worse.

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Work With Your Healthcare Team To Control Your Asthma

Asthma is variable your asthma symptoms can get better or worse. If you know how to take care of your asthma every day, you can avoid getting asthma attacks.Your health-care team can teach you how to manage your asthma symptoms. They can help you fill out a written asthma action plan. Your asthma action plan tells you exactly how to treat your symptoms, and what to do when your symptoms get worse.

Asthma Exacerbations Can Last A Week Or Longer

What happens during an asthma attack

Fran Lowry

Patients can also experience worsening of several symptoms at once, Michael Blaiss, MD, from the University of Tennessee at Memphis, told Medscape Medical News.

Dr. Blaiss and his team conducted the Asthma Insight and Management survey to examine the reported duration of episodes with asthma symptoms that were frequent or severe.

The survey is the sequel to the Asthma in America study, which was done more than a decade ago.

Dr. Michael Blaiss

We wanted to know what has happened as far as asthma management in patients since that survey was done. We also added some new questions to get a better idea of how asthma was affecting the adult and adolescent population, Dr. Blaiss explained.

AIM quizzed 2500 asthma patients 12 years and older about duration of episodes with asthma symptoms that were frequent or severe. The participants were interviewed from July to September 2009.

Dr. Blaiss said he found it striking that patients reported a variety of symptoms.

Physicians often think that an asthma flare up will last 1 or 2 days and then be gone, but this survey shows that is not true, he added.

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These Are The Most Common Asthma Triggers

Among those who have asthma, symptoms present in various ways and for some more often than for others. While some people experience asthma symptoms on a daily basis, others have symptoms only when they encounter specific triggers.

Some common asthma triggers are:

  • Airborne allergens or irritants, including dust, pollen, mold, and pet hair
  • Infections, including the flu, sinusitis, and, in some cases, upper respiratory tract infections
  • Smoke or chemical fumes
  • Stress

What To Do If You Dont Have An Inhaler

If you have been diagnosed with asthma and have been prescribed a rescue inhaler, one of the most important things you can do is keep the inhaler within arms reach at all times. Rescue inhalers for asthma are designed to alleviate asthma symptoms so that an individual can breathe more normally once again.

Patients who believe they are having an asthma attack but do not have access to a prescribed rescue inhaler should seek emergency medical help. Urgent care centers and emergency rooms should have access to an inhaler and/or breathing treatment that can help expand a patients airways and ease their breathing during an asthma attack. In the seconds and minutes it may take to obtain medical help, patients without an inhaler can do three things:

  • Remove themselves from an environment where an asthma trigger is present
  • Sit up straight with shoulders back to more fully open the airways and lungs
  • Remain as calm as possible as that may help keep their breathing more even and stable
  • How an Asthmatic Can Be Better Prepared for Future Asthma Attacks

    Asthma can have a trickle-down effect for patients, meaning that not only does it affect how they live their lives, if left unmanaged it may also result in:

    • Repeat asthmatic episodes
    • Listing what medications are currently being taken
    • Identifying the next steps to take if symptoms do not improve with a rescue inhaler
    • Listing actions to be taken in an asthma emergency

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    Lifestyle Changes To Help Severe Asthma

    As well as medication, there are lifestyle changes you can make that can help.

    • Maintain a healthy weight and exercise routine. If youre taking long-term high doses of oral corticosteroids, they can increase appetite and cause weight gain. It can be difficult to manage your weight with severe asthma, as your symptoms may make exercise more difficult, and you may lack energy and motivation if youre feeling unwell. But even by making small changes to your diet and activity levels, you can make a difference.
    • Quit smoking. is a major risk factor for asthma attacks, as well as being associated with numerous other health problems. If you smoke and have asthma, you should try to quit. Seek help from your doctor, nurse or a smoking cessation group to help make the change.
    • Do breathing exercises. Regularly practising breathing exercises can be beneficial as they help to improve lung capacity, strength and health. There are various methods suitable for asthmatics, some of which are taught by experts or physiotherapists, and theyre easy to learn and practice at home.
    • Reduce your stress levels. To reduce stress which can be a key trigger for asthma incorporating yoga, meditation or mindfulness practice into your lifestyle may be helpful.

    Useful treatment tools

    What Is Asthma Anyway

    What happens During Asthma Attack & What Causes It?

    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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