Asthma Attack

Asthma includes narrowing or contraction of the airway’s smooth muscle in response to triggers. During an asthma attack, the narrowing of airways makes it extremely difficult for a person to breathe. Common symptoms are, coughing, chest tightening, wheezing and a rattling sound in the chest. An Asthma attack can be triggered by exposure to asthma allergens such as pollen, dust , mites, cockroaches or animal danger, smoke, chemical fumes, and strong odours, such as perfume.

Symptoms of a severe asthma attack can be:

  • Inability to talk more than short phrases
  • Marked breathlessness
  • Drowsiness
  • Use of accessory muscles.
  • Discoloured (blue or grey) lips, face, or nails
  • Extreme difficulty in breathing
  • Difficulty talking or walking
  • Extreme anxiety or panic caused by breathing difficulty
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid pulse and a pale, sweaty face

Symptoms of a mild asthma attack can get better with the correct asthma treatment such as inhalers and controller & reliever medications prescribed by the doctor. However, the symptoms of an asthma attack can vary from person to person. One can make sure to consult a doctor regarding their particular symptoms, and know what actions must be taken when they experience those symptoms. To note down these actions, the asthmatic has to prepare and an asthma action plan with his or her doctor, to control and prevent the symptoms, and act immediately during emergencies. By recognising the symptoms early, one can stop an asthma attack, or prevent it from getting worse. A severe asthma attack can be dangerous to one’s life and therefore, delay in treatment will only worsen it more.

An asthma attack can be triggered by a various things, from allergies to illnesses.

The most common triggers of an asthma attack include:

  • Exposure to an allergen, such as dust mites, animal dander or pollen
  • Irritants such as smoke, chemical fumes, and strong odours
  • Respiratory infections
  • Rigorous exercise, which can lead to exercise-induced asthma
  • Cold weather, dry air or humidity
  • Gastro esophagal reflux (GERD)
  • Intense emotions or stress

An asthma attack can be mild, moderate, severe or life-threatening. If a person is experiencing a severe asthma attack, the quick relief medicine can be taken but immediate medical attention is required after that. It is important to visit the nearest hospital without any delay, as it can be a life-threatening asthma attack. Here are some steps that can be followed, as immediate actions for someone experiencing the symptoms of an asthma attack.

What to do during an asthma attack?

Every asthmatic must have an asthma action plan. This action plan will include information on what must be done in emergency situations.This action plan will have three zones based on the severity of the condition. This action plan will guide the person through what medicines can be given or what action needs to be taken. It will also have the contact of the nearest hospital, the doctor and the caregiver of the asthmatic.

The action plan has to be shared with family and close friends of the asthmatic so that they can be prepared for emergencies. Taking preventive measures as per the doctor’s instructions is the most important thing for an asthmatic. Taking the controller inhaler medications is a must, but some asthmatics may still show symptoms after taking medications regularly.

An asthmatic can also follow these four steps if he or she is experiencing the symptoms of an asthma attack:

  • Sit upright and loosen the clothes.
  • Take a prescribed reliever inhaler without any delay.
  • If no relief is seen in 5 minutes after using the Reliever inhaler, take more doses of the reliever inhaler as prescribed by the doctor.
  • If there is still no relief, it is important to call the doctor or visit the nearest hospital without delay. Do not exceed the Reliever inhaler dose without consulting a doctor.

If a person comes across anyone experiencing the above mentioned symptoms of an asthma attack, it is important to take immediate action. While there is no cure for asthma, modern medicines have made it possible to control asthma symptoms. Recovery of an asthma attack depends on what was the reason/trigger of the attack. These triggers worsen the symptoms of asthma but rescue inhalers can be used for symptomatic relief.

To learn the correct inhalation device technique from certified educators through video call, visit Breathefree Digital Educator platform


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