Handling Asthma Attacks: What to do

asthma attack

When Asthma Attacks

If you or someone you love is suffering from asthma, you know how an attack can be unnerving, to say the least. When dealing with any crisis, be it asthma or otherwise, the main thing to remember is to stay as calm as possible. This can be easier said than done, but a calm demeanor can go a long way towards taking reasoned actions.

Next, it has been said that the best defense is a good offense; and when it comes to asthma, this is certainly true. I you have asthma or live with someone who does, you should have a plan of action ready in case of emergencies. You should discuss your plans with your physician and have emergency medications at the ready at all times. Do your best to avoid known triggers such as cigarette smoke or excessive dust and allergens.

Remove the Trigger

When an asthma attack begins, try to remove either the person having the attack or the trigger, if identifiable, that is causing the attack. Try using a quick acting medication or rescue inhaler, according to your doctor’s instructions. Most people find that slowly taking two deep puffs of their rescue inhaler is helpful. Be advised that a severe attack may require as much as four puffs to get the symptoms to subside.

Most rescue inhalers/bronchodilators aren’t meant to be used more than four times in a day. You may also require inhaled corticosteroids or other treatment, based on your physician’s guidance. Corticosteroids are often used to reduce the amount of mucus produced and to lower inflammation levels that cause swelling in the airway.

However, during an asthma attack you may need to use them as much as every twenty minutes for up to two hours. A nebulizer, if available, can be used in a similar fashion. Many patients report a racing heartbeat and feelings of nervousness or jitteriness. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may need to seek emergency care. Always advise your doctor of any asthmatic episodes so that they can adjust your treatment, as required.

How Bad is it?

The appropriate response to an attack is always going to be based upon the severity of the asthmatic attack. A severe attack, for instance, may make even minimal activity such as walking, difficult. You may also find it difficult to speak without having to stop for breath. If you have access to a peak flow meter, you may be better able to determine the best course of action based on your symptoms. In most cases, a peak flow lower than 200 liters per minute indicates a serve asthma attack.

If your symptoms have not improved by following your action plan or are becoming worse, make sure to head for the nearest emergency room and contact your medical provider as soon as possible. If you or a loved one has questions about asthma, or would like to schedule a sleep study, call Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine at 8154777350, or request an appointment online today. At Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, we care about your sleep and your good health.

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