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.
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Check Asthma Control Steps With Your Doctor
Asthma can change over time, so you’ll need periodic adjustments to your treatment plan to keep daily symptoms under control. If your asthma isn’t well controlled, you’re more likely to have an asthma attack. Lingering lung inflammation means your asthma could flare up at any time.
Go to all scheduled doctor’s appointments. If you have regular asthma flare-ups, or if you have low peak flow readings or other signs your asthma isn’t well controlled, make an appointment to see your doctor.
During An Asthma Attack
In a sudden asthma attack you can use your inhaler more and take up to 10 puffs. Wait 30 seconds and always shake the inhaler between doses. You can repeat this dose 10 minutes later.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A& E now if you or your child:
- are struggling to breathe
- have asthma symptoms that are not getting better
Asthma attacks can get worse very quickly.
For treating severe asthma attacks, salbutamol can be given through a nebuliser. A nebuliser is a machine that delivers the medicine as a mist inhaled through a face mask. This will probably be given to you by your doctor.
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If I Think I Have Covid
If you start having symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor or your local health department within 24 hours. Many states have various testing options, and your doctor or department of health can tell you what to do.
Many doctors have been offering telehealth . If that is an option, ask your insurance company if telehealth is covered under your plan. And if you have Medicare, you might be able to have a virtual visit with your doctor. The government has expanded the coverage of telehealth services during the COVID-19 crisis.
Using Your Asthma Action Plan
It is important to treat an asthma attack as soon as you can. You can often do this yourself by taking the rescue medicine your doctor prescribed. This is usually an inhaler.1
If you think your asthma attack was caused by something like exercise, cold air, or an irritant, stop what you are doing and go somewhere safe.1
Use your controller and rescue medicine exactly as your doctor prescribed. Then, follow your asthma action plan to decide what to do next. It may include instructions to use your peak flow meter. If your peak flow is below 50 percent, call 91-1- right away. If you have any questions or if your symptoms do not improve, call your doctor immediately.1
If you are at high risk of a severe or fatal asthma attack, find medical help immediately after using your rescue medication.1
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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 youâve 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.
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Preventing An Asthma Attack
The best way to prevent having an asthma attack is to make sure that your asthma is under control. People with asthma typically use two types of medication:
- Long-term. This involves medication that you take every day to control airway inflammation and prevent asthma attacks. These medications can include things like inhaled corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers and long-acting bronchodilators.
- Quick-relief. This is rescue medication that you take for short-term relief of asthma symptoms. These medications are referred to as short-acting bronchodilators and work to open your airways.
You should also work with your doctor to develop a personalized asthma action plan. This can help you to better understand and control your asthma. An asthma action plan includes:
- your asthma triggers and how to avoid them
- how and when to take your medications, both for symptom control and for quick relief
- indicators of when youre controlling your asthma well and when you need to seek emergency medical attention
Your family and those close to you should have a copy of your asthma action plan so that theyll know what to do if you have an asthma attack. Additionally, it may be helpful to keep it on your phone as well, in case you need to reference it quickly.
Its possible that you may still have some questions regarding asthma attacks. Well try to answer some of these now.
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Create An Asthma Action Plan
An Asthma Action Plan is a written, individualized worksheet that shows you the steps to take to keep your asthma from getting worse. It also provides guidance on when to call your healthcare provider or when to go to the emergency room.
An asthma action plan is an important tool to share with caregivers of children with asthma, including daycare providers, schools and aftercare programs. Use the school-aged asthma action plan, Asthma Action plan for Home and School that includes language for school-aged children to self-carry their asthma inhaler in school.
How Much Albuterol Is Too Much
Asthma can cause shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and tightness in the chest, so its nice to have something handy that can eliminate those symptoms fast. Thats probably why your albuterol inhaler has quickly become your best friend! But there can be downsides to getting too much albuterol.
The question is, how do you know how much albuterol is too much?
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Know The Signs Of An Asthma Attack
Youre having an asthma attack if:
- your blue reliever isnt helping, or you need to use it more than every four hours
- youre wheezing a lot, have a very tight chest, or youre coughing a lot
- youre breathless and find it difficult to walk or talk
- your breathing is getting faster and it feels like you cant get your breath in properly
You may have all of these signs and symptoms. Or you may have just some of them. For example, you may not wheeze.
Know your early warning signs
An asthma attack happens when your symptoms get much worse. This can happen quite suddenly or can build up gradually over a few days.
You can stop an asthma attack before it happens, or make it less serious so you dont end up in hospital, by recognising when your symptoms are getting worse.
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I went to the ER because my medicine was working less & less over a couple days. I used my ventolin inhaler 80 times over the course of 4 days to keep the wheezing at bay and so that I could sleep.
When I told the doctors this, they all seemed so shocked, eyes wide open, as if I had told them Id been eating cyanide. They told me it was waaaaay too much, with a voice of huge concern. I told them I even used it like 15 times that day.
But after all that commotion, what do they do? Give me 3 full doses of albuterol from a nebulizer. I was so confused. Can anyone explain why they were so amazed when I said how much albuterol I used if they were just going to give me more albuterol?
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Inhaler Devices For Asthma Medication
Some people need extra help to take their asthma medication and make it work more effectively.
Work with your doctor to decide which device is best for you.Inhalers are the most common devices for asthma medication. The 3 main types of inhaler devices are:
- Metered-dose inhaler an aerosol canister that produces a fine mist of medication. Always shake the canister before use. It is recommended to always use a spacer with your puffer.
- Breath-activated inhaler a spring-loaded aerosol canister. The medication automatically mists out when you start to breathe in through the mouthpiece. These are good for children and for people who find it hard to coordinate a puffer.
- Dry-powder inhalers contain medication as a dry powder, rather than liquid like aerosol inhalers. Deep breathing is required to release medication to the lungs. Young children and anyone who struggles with shortness of breath may find these difficult to use.
Watch National Asthma Council videos which show you how to use different types of inhalers, including this video on how to use a standard metered-dose inhaler.
Some other types of medication may be used for more severe asthma. Your doctor may prescribe these additional therapies or refer you to a respiratory specialist.
Look Beyond The Obvious
There are some well-known and obvious triggers you should avoid when you have asthma cold air, dust mites, pollen, tobacco smoke, mold, and pet dander among them. But what about your favorite candle, thunderstorms, aspirin, or even traffic? Several odd or unusual things can trigger an asthma attack. If you have asthma, its important to identify your own particular triggers so you can try to avoid or at least be better prepared for a potential attack.
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How To Operate A Nebulizer
Follow these specific steps to use your nebulizer:
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Whats The Best Body Position For An Asthma Attack
Generally speaking, sitting up straight is the best position for an asthma attack. This is because sitting up allows air to more effectively enter your lungs while bending over or lying down may constrict your breathing.
A 2017 study investigated lung function in a small group of 20 people with asthma. Lung function was found to be highest when participants were in the standing position, followed by the sitting position. Function was lowest when participants were lying down.
Another investigated the effect of body positioning on the lung function of healthy people and those with certain health conditions. In people with lung diseases like asthma, lung function was found to be higher in more erect positions.
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When To See A Doctor
If your asthma flares up, immediately follow the treatment steps you and your doctor worked out in your written asthma plan. If your symptoms and peak expiratory flow readings improve, home treatment may be all that’s needed. If your symptoms don’t improve with home treatment, you may need to seek emergency care.
When your asthma symptoms flare up, follow your written asthma plan’s instructions for using your quick-acting inhaler. PEF readings ranging from 51% to 79% of your personal best are a sign you need to use the quick-acting medications prescribed by your doctor.
Who Can Get Asthma
Anyone can develop asthma at any age. People with allergies or people exposed to tobacco smoke are more likely to develop asthma. This includes secondhand smoke and thirdhand smoke .
Statistics show that people assigned female at birth tend to have asthma more than people assigned male at birth. Asthma affects Black people more frequently than other races.
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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.
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
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What To Take With You When Going To Hospital With Asthma
If youre at home when you have an asthma emergency and need to go to hospital, it would ideally help if you could take a few things with you. These include:
- Your asthma inhalers
- Your spacer, if you use one
- Any other medications you currently take, for your asthma and other conditions
- A copy of your asthma action plan this will help medics see your asthma triggers, your peak flow and other relevant
Taking these items with you will help the medics to treat you. However, they are not essential, so dont worry if youre not able to take them with you.
Why Asthma Can Be Worse In Winter And Steps To Manage Attacks
Asthma is a chronic condition that affects nearly 25 million people in America. Its a respiratory disease that makes breathing difficult and often comes with lung spasms, wheezing, and chest tightness.
Your lungs are made of bronchi that transport air to and from your lungs. If you have asthma, your airways are easily inflamed. Inflamed airways swell, closing your breathing passages and making it hard for air to reach your lungs.
Changes in your environment like weather, dust, and smoke can make your lungs extra sensitive. For many asthmatics, winter weather brings more frequent asthma attacks. The doctors at Wasatch Peak Family Practice can help you find an asthma treatment plan that works with your lifestyle.
One of the best things you can do to prevent and manage asthma attacks in winter is to understand your triggers and know your treatment plan. Let us help you understand your asthma and how to control it.
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What Should I Do If I Think I’m Having An Asthma Attack
Stay calm and use your inhaler with the spacer. If you can, check your peak flow to see how bad the attack is. If you have a nebulizer, use this instead of an inhaler. If your breathing gets easier after using your medicine, you may still want to call your doctor to discuss follow-up or other treatments. Make sure your family knows what to do if you have an asthma attack.
You Can Control Your Asthma
You can control your asthma! When you control your asthma, you will breathe easier, be as active as you would like, sleep well, stay out of the hospital, and be free from coughing and wheezing. Learn about controlling your asthma at CDCs asthma site.
Asthma is one of the most common lifelong chronic diseases. One in 13 Americans lives with asthma, a disease affecting the lungs and causing repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing.
Although asthma cannot be cured, you can control your asthma successfully to reduce and to prevent asthma attacks, also called episodes. Successful asthma management includes knowing the warning signs of an attack, avoiding things that may trigger an attack, and working with your doctor to develop your personal Asthma Action Plan. CDCs National Asthma Control Program has worked to help millions of people with asthma in the United States gain control over their disease since 1999. CCARE, Controlling Childhood Asthma and Reducing Emergencies, is the programs objective of preventing 500,000 childhood Emergency Department visits and hospitalizations due to asthma by August 31, 2024.
Asthma deaths have decreased over time and varied by demographic characteristics. The rate of asthma deaths decreased from 15 per million in 2001 to 10 per million in 2018. Deaths due to asthma are thought to be largely preventable, particularly among children and young adults.
Asthma deaths have decreased over time.
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