When Disaster Strikes — What to Do During an Asthma Attack

When Disaster Strikes — What to Do During an Asthma Attack
July 08, 2019 by AireHealth

Asthma attacks are scary and can escalate in severity very quickly. Last week we discussed the importance of having an Asthma Action Plan, and this week we want to talk about what to do if an asthma attack occurs. It is important to remember that during an emergency seeking medical attention as soon as possible can save lives. 

What Is an Asthma Attack?

An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms. Tightening of the muscles around the airways, as well as narrowing of the airways themselves, causes this. The lining of the airways also becomes inflamed and produces more mucus than usual.

What Are the Early Symptoms of an Asthma Attack?

Early warning signs can begin to happen just before an asthma attack and are an indication that your asthma symptoms are worsening.

Things you need to be aware of include; shortness of breath, wheezing, or feeling very tired during exercise, peak flow meter readings that are less than usual, and an increase in allergy symptoms.

Asthma attacks can become severe with minimal warning. By ensuring you are familiar with the early signs of an asthma attack, you can prevent it from escalating.

What Are the Symptoms of an Asthma Attack?

Young Girl Speaking to Doctor About Asthma Symptoms

Symptoms and the severity of them can differ during an asthma attack, but usually involve wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing. An asthma attack can also cause feelings of panic and anxiety. 

It is crucial to call 911 if you witness someone having an asthma attack with blue or pale skin, difficulty talking or no longer wheezing.

Even if asthma symptoms are mild, it is essential to recognize and treat them promptly, as this will help to keep it under control.

What to do During an Asthma Attack

  • If you notice someone experiencing an asthma attack, the first thing you should do is refer to their asthma action plan and follow the instructions for an emergency.
  • You should also call emergency services immediately, as prompt care from medical professionals can save lives.
  • Reliever medication should be used immediately on the onset of the asthma attack, but if the person does not have their medication with them, you should encourage them to sit upright and take long, deep breaths. It is essential that during an asthma attack, the person refrains from bending over and constricting their airways further.
  • If the asthma attack has a known trigger, such as dust or cigarette smoke, move the patient away from the trigger and try to keep them calm until emergency services arrive.

We hope that through the empowerment of patients and proactive care management, severe asthma attacks — and emergency room visits — become much less prevalent. 

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