Acute Asthma Attack Symptoms
An acute asthma attack is a medical emergency youll must seek immediate medical help and go to hospital.
Acute asthma attack symptoms to be aware of include:
- Rapid breathing that doesnt ease with use of a reliever inhaler
- Extreme shortness of breath being unable to inhale or exhale fully
- An inability to speak in full sentences
- Confusion or agitation
- Developing a blue tint on the face, lips or fingernails.
If you dont seek treatment for an acute asthma attack, your life could be in danger. Find out more about acute asthma by reading our guide to severe asthma.
What Are The Signs Of A Severe Asthma Attack
Asthma may lead to a medical emergency.
Rescue inhalers can help you: otc inhalers
Seek medical help immediately for:
- Fast breathing with chest retractions
- Cyanosis which is tissue color changes on mucus membranes and fingertips or nail beds – the color appears grayish or whitish on darker skin tones and bluish on lighter skin tones
- Rapid movement of nostrils
- Ribs or stomach moving in and out deeply and rapidly
- Expanded chest that does not deflate when you exhale
- Infants with asthma who fail to respond to or recognize parents
Individual Triggers May Serve As Warning Signs
One of the neat things about asthma is that it communicates with you, letting you know when you are around one of your asthma triggers. How it communicates is by presenting you with early warning signs of asthma.
These signs include chest tightness, anxiety, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, headache, itchy chin, and neck, etc.
To learn your individual symptoms, you will actually have to experience an asthma attack. However, by observing the signs, and learning them, you can actually prevent future asthma attacks. So, once you observe your early warning signs, consider yourself forewarned that you are around something that is triggering your asthma, and its time to stop what you are doing, remove yourself from the situation, and treat yourself according to your asthma management plan, if necessary.
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After An Asthma Attack: Changing Your Asthma Management Or Asthma Attack Treatment
“After an asthma attack evaluation, your doctor may want to step up treatment, step down treatment, change treatment, or increase your doctor visits,” said Bernstein.
Some signs that your treatment plan may need to change include:
- Frequent asthma attacks
- Needing to take more asthma medication than prescribed
- Waking up at night with asthma symptoms
- Daytime activity limited by asthma
- Continued cough, congestion, and mucous production
- Poor peak flow rates
Knowing what to do after an asthma attack is part of learning how to manage your asthma. Each asthma attack is a chance to learn more about your asthma triggers and your asthma medications. Sharing this information with your doctor gives you and your doctor the opportunity to make the right adjustments to your asthma action plan â and that could mean fewer asthma attacks in your future.
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.
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Home Remedies For Asthma Attacks
While some asthma attacks are mild, lasting just a few minutes, others are severe and may need immediate medical treatment. Many milder attacks can be handled at home. Heres what to try.
Avoid your triggers. If you know what your triggers are, try to stay away from them so you can avoid asthma attacks altogether. Sometimes, this isnt possiblebut if you find yourself having an asthma attack and you know why, do what you can to get away from the culprit.
If you walked into someones house with a cat, then get outside,” says Dr. Rathkopf. “If youre outside and its cold, then get inside or cover up your mouth with a scarf.
Follow your action plan. Every patient should leave their doctors office with an asthma action plan, says Dr. Li. These individualized plans will guide you through the best next steps during an asthma attack.
Preparation is key, says Dr. Li. Attacks happen.
That goes for everyoneeven if youve never had an asthma attack. Patients have felt like they cant really have asthma because theyve never had an attack, says Dr. Rathkopf. Thats fortunate for them, but it doesnt mean they couldnt have one.
The first step after getting away from your triggeror if you cant avoid your trigger or dont know what it isis usually medication.
Take anywhere from two to four puffs, advises Dr. Li.
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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.
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Prevent Another Asthma Attack
In order to prevent another asthma attack, you may need an asthma action plan. First of all, you need to take inhaled medications regularly, and for that purpose, find Clenil Modulite at Medicine Direct it will help you manage your disease.
Sometimes patients use an inhaler and take bronchodilators. If your asthma symptoms worsen and you are concerned about your medications, it is best to speak to your doctor to get medical advice.
The issue of preventing asthma attacks becomes complicated if you smoke. Unfortunately, tobacco smoke irreversibly damages the lungs. Smoking increases the symptoms of asthma and increases the risk of exacerbations.
Moreover, patients who smoke need to use twice as much inhaled steroids to obtain the same therapeutic effect as non-smoking patients.
So, if you have asthma, you should definitely give up smoking. Also, avoid passive smoking.
The use of electronic cigarettes is, unfortunately, not safer. It seems that they negatively affect the respiratory system, inducing an inflammatory process that may end in an exacerbation.
How To Tell If You’re Having An Attack:
While you are having an asthma attack the signs will be fairly obvious.
But there are also several things that happen in the lead-up that can warn you that an attack is coming.
“As asthma can vary so much from person to person, it can sometimes be difficult for people with asthma to identify when they are having an attack,” Sonia said.
You are having an asthma attack if you notice any of the following:
- Your reliever inhaler is not helping or lasting for four hours
- Your symptoms are getting worse – think coughing, breathlessness, wheezing, coughing at night or a tight chest
- You are too breathless to speak, eat or sleep, or it is difficult to do any of these things
- Your breathing is getting faster, and it feels like you cant get your breath in properly
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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.
Cold Weather And Asthma
Cold weather is a common trigger for asthma symptoms. The following to help you control your symptoms in the cold:
- carry your reliever inhaler with you at all times and keep taking your regular preventer inhaler as prescribed
- if you need to use your inhaler more than usual, speak to your doctor about reviewing your treatment
- keep warm and dry wear gloves, a scarf and a hat, and carry an umbrella
- wrap a scarf loosely over your nose and mouth this will help warm up the air before you breathe it
- try breathing in through your nose instead of your mouth your nose warms the air as you breathe
Asthma Society of Ireland has more about weather and asthma.
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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
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:
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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.
Keep Taking Your Asthma Medicines As Prescribed
You can speed up your recovery and lower your risk of another attack by taking your asthma medicines as prescribed. Use your asthma action plan to help you.
This means continuing to take your usual preventer medicine and finishing the course of steroid tablets if your doctor prescribed this for you.
- Your usual preventer medicine works away in the background to prevent your airways from getting too inflamed or swollen. If you take it every day as prescribed you should have fewer symptoms and lower your risk of another attack.
- A short course of steroid tablets prescribed by your GP helps you recover from your asthma attack by dealing with the inflammation and swelling in your airways.If youre still getting symptoms once youve finished a course of oral steroid tablets, book a follow-up appointment, says Dr Andy. “Your GP or asthma nurse may decide to extend your course of steroid tablets by another week.
If you are on a high dose of steroid medicine you should be given a steroid card. This is a card that lets health care professionals know you take steroids. It is useful in emergency situations, as your body may not produce enough natural steroids to help you deal with illness or injury. In this situation, doctors will need to give you extra corticosteroids.
Make sure you always carry your steroid card with you. If you lose it, you can get a replacement from your pharmacy or GP.
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Mild To Moderate Attack
Reassure the patient place him in a 1/2 sitting position.
Administer: salbutamol : 2 to 4 puffs every 20 to 30 minutes, up to 10 puffs if necessary during the first hour. In children, use a spacer1 to ease administration . Single puffs should be given one at a time, let the child breathe 4 to 5 times from the spacer before repeating the procedure. prednisolone PO: one dose of 1 to 2 mg/kg
If the attack is completely resolved: observe the patient for 1 hour then give outpatient treatment: salbutamol for 24 to 48 hours and prednisolone PO to complete 3 days of treatment.
If the attack is only partially resolved, continue with salbutamol 2 to 4 puffs every 3 to 4 hours if the attack is mild 6 puffs every 1 to 2 hours if the attack is moderate, until symptoms subside, then when the attack is completely resolved, proceed as above.
If symptoms worsen or do not improve, treat as severe attack.
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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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.
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 dont 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.
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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.