Saturday, October 15, 2022
HomeEditor PicksWhat To Do In An Asthma Attack

What To Do In An Asthma Attack

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 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.

What To Do In A Severe Asthma Attack Emergency

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.

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

What To Do If You Dont Have An Inhaler

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

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

    Food And Food Additives Trigger Asthma

    Food allergies can cause mild to severe life-threatening reactions. They rarely cause asthma without other symptoms. If you have food allergies, asthma can be part of a severe, life-threatening reaction called . The most common foods associated with allergic symptoms are:

    • Eggs
    • Salads
    • Fresh fruits

    Food preservatives can trigger isolated asthma, especially sulfite additives, like sodium bisulfite, bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, and sodium sulfite, which are commonly used in food processing or preparation.

    Give Yourself Some Time To Recover

    After an asthma attack it’s important to try and rest as much as you need to. Lots of people feel physically and emotionally tired. Everyone’s different so it’s important to do what’s right for you.

    Try to:

    • rest and relax as much as possible
    • get signed off work by your doctor dont go back to work until youre fully better
    • ask friends and family to help with children or housework and shopping
    • have a good sleep routine trouble sleeping is common after an asthma attack
    • postpone social events until youre well enough

    book another appointment with your GP as soon as possible,


    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 , 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.

    What Are The Symptoms Of An Asthma Attack

    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
    • Decreased activity due to asthma
    • 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.


    • Excessive cough, wheeze and chest tightness
    • Difficulty speaking due to asthma
    • Experiencing shortness of breath at rest
    • Lips or nail beds turning blue
    • Reliever medication isnt helping
    • Sweating

    Asthma Symptoms Vs Coronavirus Symptoms

    Currently, we are worried that every sniffle and cough may be COVID-19. This worry is extremely valid; COVID-19 is still in its infancy and there is much that we do not know.

    Fortunately, if you have asthma, most of your coughing and wheezing may not be related to COVID-19. Knowing how to identify the symptoms may help you differentiate.

    Though there is a long list of COVID-19 symptoms, there are common symptoms frequently associated with upper respiratory infections:

    • Fever
    • Dry cough
    • Shortness of breath

    Symptoms of asthma also may also include a dry cough and shortness of breath. There also may be wheezing and chest tightness, which is less frequent with COVID-19. If your symptoms are not similar to your norm or you have doubts, it is wise to seek medical advice or get a COVID-19 test.

    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.

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

    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.  

    What Do I Do If I Have An Asthma Attack

    What to do in 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 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 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.

    Emergency Treatment At A Hospital

    If you need emergency treatment at a hospital, you may first have pulse oximetry to guide your treatment. This simple test uses a painless fingernail sensor to measure the percent of oxygen in your blood.

    • Short-acting medications through a nebulizer. These medications are similar to those in your rescue inhaler, but the nebulizer is a machine that turns the medications into a mist. When you are having a severe asthma attack, using a nebulizer instead of an inhaler often makes it easier to inhale the medication deeply into your lungs.
    • An oral corticosteroid. This pill is a strong medication that reverses inflammation.
    • Other medications, called bronchodilators, that open up your airways.

    Sometimes treatment for a severe asthma attack requires breathing assistance. This may involve getting supplemental oxygen or using a breathing machine called a mechanical ventilator.

    Asthma Attack A Guide To First Aid And Emergency Care For Asthma

    Asthma can be an emergency. A sudden or severe asthma flare-up is sometimes called an asthma attack.

    An asthma flare-up is a worsening of asthma symptoms and lung function compared to what you would usually experience day to day. An asthma flare-up can come on slowly, over hours, days or even weeks, or very quickly, over minutes.

    If you or someone you care for are experiencing any of these signs, start asthma first aid.

    Do not wait until asthma is severe.

    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 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.

    What Can I Expect At The Hospital

    The doctor or nurse will check your oxygen level and give you more oxygen. He or she may check your peak flow and do a blood test. You may have to take other medicines, such as nebulizer treatments or steroids. The medicines may be given through an IV. You also may need to stay overnight in the hospital, depending on how bad your attack was and your response to treatment.

    Emergencies And Your Asthma Action Plan

    You and your doctor need to create an asthma action plan that details what to do when you are in different zones — green, yellow, or red:

    • Green zone: You are free of symptoms and can do your usual activities. Peak flow readings are 80% to 100% of your personal best. You’re doing well. If you use daily control medicine, you should take it as usual.
    • Yellow zone: You have symptoms of asthma. Or your peak flow readings are between 50% and 80% of your personal best. Your asthma is worsening. You may need medicine to prevent a more serious asthma attack.
    • Red zone: You have symptoms of an asthma emergency. Peak flow readings are 50% or lower of your personal best. You are having a severe attack and need asthma emergency treatment.

    Most important, your written asthma action plan spells out what you should do in an asthma emergency.

    Since every person’s asthma is different, you need to have a custom-tailored asthma emergency treatment plan.

    Your plan might include the following steps:

    • Use your emergency inhaler as prescribed.
    • Take a peak flow reading if you can.
    • Get to an emergency room or call 911.

    Don’t delay. Waiting too long to get asthma emergency treatment can be deadly.

    An asthma action plan should also include:

    • Your name
    • The name and number of your family doctor
    • The name and number of your local hospital
    • Your personal best peak flow meter reading

    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.

    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

    Asthma Attack Causes And Symptoms

    If your child has an asthma attack

    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.

    What Causes Asthma

    Healthcare providers dont know why some people have asthma while others dont. But certain factors present a higher risk:

    • Allergies: Having allergies can raise your risk of developing asthma.
    • Environmental factors: Infants can develop asthma after breathing in things that irritate the airways. These substances include allergens, secondhand smoke and some viral infections. They can harm infants and young children whose immune systems havent finished developing.
    • Genetics: People with a family history of asthma have a higher risk of developing the disease.
    • Respiratory infections: Certain respiratory infections, such as respiratory syncytial virus , can damage young childrens developing lungs.

    How Can I Avoid It

    Try to stay away from whatever makes your symptoms worse. You should have regular checkups with your doctor to make sure your asthma is under control. Take your medicines as directed by your doctor and get refills before they run out. You should use a spacer with your inhaler to get the most from your medicine.

    Having an asthma action plan can help you notice when your symptoms are getting worse. Your doctor can help you make a plan like this one: . Once you know what your personal best peak flow is, you can check it regularly and keep a flow chart to track your asthma.

    You should get a flu shot every year to help avoid getting the flu. Your doctor may also tell you to get a pneumonia shot.

    Give Yourself A Break

    Before you return to your daily routine, give yourself time to regenerate. An asthma attack puts a heavy burden on the body, so try to get back into good shape.

    Please, dont ignore that part as you may lead to a situation where your symptoms get worse. You might require medical attention in the case of severe asthma attacks.

    Also, after an attack, anxiety about the next one increases, which may have a bad effect on your mental health.

    Hold on with going back to the office. Ask your employer for a few days off, and preferably consult your doctor about returning to your daily activities. Let the specialist assess whether you are ready to go back to work.

    When you rest at home, ask family members to take over your responsibilities. Let someone else take the nets out and go shopping; you dont want to overexert yourself if there is no need to.

    Also, get good-quality sleep. Avoid using electrical appliances that emit blue light before going to bed. Besides, go to bed early and wake up with the sunrise.

    Living according to your natural circadian rhythm has healing properties that can be a great part of your treatment plan.

    How To Recognize Early Asthma Attack Symptoms

    Common symptoms of asthma:

    • Chest tightness
    • Breathing rapidly

    An asthma attack occurs when these symptoms intensify. Recognizing these symptoms as they worsen can prevent an attack from becoming life-threatening.

    According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, five things happen during an asthma attack:

    • The airway branches become more sensitive and react to things that may trigger an asthma attack.
    • The lining of the lungs swells, becoming more and more inflamed.
    • Mucus begins to clog the airways.
    • Bronchospasm occurs, which is when the muscles surrounding the airways tighten.
    • It becomes increasingly more difficult to move air through the airways.

    Managing An Asthma Attack

    While waiting for assistance, things you can do during an asthma attack if you dont have your medication include:

    Additionally, there are many things that you can do in general to lessen the likelihood and severity of asthma attacks.

    • Maintain a healthy weight
    • Exercise regularly
    • Drink plenty of water
    • Take a fish oil supplement
    • Take antihistamines if your trigger is an allergen.
    • Wear protective masks if the pollen count is high or there are harmful fumes in the air.
    • Practice relaxation techniques like yoga breathing and meditation.
    • Use a hot water humidifier

    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.

    Personal Asthma Action Plan

    As part of your initial assessment, you should be encouraged to draw up a personal asthma action plan with your GP or asthma nurse.

    If you’ve been admitted to hospital because of an asthma attack, you should be offered an action plan before you go home.

    The action plan should include information about your asthma medicines, and will help you recognise when your symptoms are getting worse and what steps to take. You should also be given information about what to do if you have an asthma attack.

    Your personal asthma action plan should be reviewed with your GP or asthma nurse at least once a year, or more frequently if your symptoms are severe.

    As part of your asthma plan, you may be given a peak flow meter. This will give you another way of monitoring your asthma, rather than relying only on symptoms, so you can recognise deterioration earlier and take appropriate steps.

    Want to know more?

    Contact Doctor During Office Hours

    If your child has an asthma attack

    • 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

    Avoid A Contact With Allergen

    The most common cause of asthma are allergies, so the most effective method of preventing another attack, in this case, will be to avoid contact with a specific allergen.

    Allergic To House Dust Mites

    In case of allergy to house dust mites, it is good to use acaricides, agents that cause agglomeration of allergenic mite excrements, and their remains.

    You can use covers for bedding that do not let mite excrement pass.

    Also, keep the right temperature and humidity in your bedroom.

    Besides, it is worth washing the pillow and quilt every 2-3 weeks at 60 degrees; this will significantly reduce your asthma symptoms.

    Pollen Allergy

    It is a very common allergy that causes acute asthma attacks. If this is your problem read the pollen calendar not to be surprised by the appearance of symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, tearing, and after that, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

    During the pollen season, you should ventilate your home in the morning or late afternoon.

    Outside of closed rooms, you must use protective glasses, avoid places with the highest pollen concentration, i.e., near dusty trees, meadows, or pastures.

    When you get home, it is best to wash anything that has been exposed to pollen nose, face, ears, exposed parts of the body to wash off this allergen.

    Immunotherapy is a good idea. Desensitization can significantly alter your responses to pollen. This is a very good method that is safe and highly effective in an allergists hands.

    Food Allergy


    Most Popular