What to do during an asthma attack

Here’s What To Do In An Asthma Attack

Asthma is a very common condition: 1 in 13 Americans is diagnosed with asthma and, according to the CDC, it’s the top reason kids miss school! These facts don’t make the complications from asthma, like an asthma attack, any less scary. Every day, 10 Americans die from asthma-related causes, most of which could be avoided with proper preventative care. Here’s what you need to know to help yourself or someone else that is having an asthma attack.

5 Things You Need To Know About Asthma Attacks

How To Spot An Asthma Attack

When you think of an asthma attack, images come to mind of a severe event, where a patient is struggling for breath. In reality, though, you may be able to spot a sign of an imminent asthma attack by looking for signs that your asthma is not being controlled.

Signs you could be heading towards an asthma attack:

  • You’re waking up at night more than usual
  • You’re not able to do normal activities and exercise
  • You’re using your rescue inhaler more than 3 times a week
  • You’re not getting your peak flow numbers

That said, it’s also important to know how to spot that an asthma attack is imminent:

  • You’re needing your inhaler every 4 hours or more
  • You have difficulty walking, talking or breathing
  • You’re wheezing, have a tight chest or are coughing a lot
  • Your peak flow is within your doctor’s guidelines

How To Prevent An Asthma Attack

In many cases, asthma attacks are a sign that your asthma is not well controlled. Your pulmonologist can help you create an asthma action plan, so you know how to manage your symptoms and, importantly, how to identify when you’re developing symptoms that indicate your condition is worsening.

What To Do In The Case Of An Asthma Attack

If you are experiencing any of the signs above, here are a few steps to take.

If your symptoms are mild:

  1. Remove any triggers. Move to an area free from environmental irritants like cigarette smoke or exhaust fumes. Air-conditioned environments are best.
  2. Check your protocol. Make sure you’re using your medication as prescribed and following your protocol. Unless directed to do so by your doctor, you should not stop using your medication because your symptoms are improving.
  3. Make an appointment. Take note of how you feel and set up a time to check in with your doctor to adjust your plan if needed.

If your symptoms are severe:

  1. Stay calm. Panicking will worsen your symptoms and make breathing more difficult. Try to take slow, deep breaths.
  2. Sit upright. Bending or hunching over further constricts your breathing.
  3. Follow your protocol. Use your rescue inhaler as directed by your pulmonologist, usually 1-2 puffs a minute.
  4. Call 911 if your condition continues to worsen after 10 puffs of your rescue inhaler, if your lips turn blue or if your skin begins to look “sucked in” between ribs and in your neck area.
  5. Check-in with your pulmonologist to review and alter your treatment plan.

What Not To Do In The Case Of An Asthma Attack!

Don’t panic. Panicking causes you to take shallower, rapid breaths which can exacerbate the feeling of struggling for air.

Don’t dismiss the attack if you don’t hear wheezing. Wheezing means you’re moving air, so if your breathing is very obstructed, you may not hear wheezing.

Don’t use the wrong medication or take too much. Take the time to read labels and use the correct medication in the correct dosage, according to your plan.

What To Do Once The Situation is Under Control

Call your pulmonologist and make a prevent future asthma attacks. The good news is, most asthma attacks are preventable! Making a plan with your doctor to understand what your condition should look and feel like when it is well managed makes it easier to identify when things are going wrong and get ahead of the situation.

Learn More

Lyracore Pulmonology is here to help you thrive with your asthma diagnosis. We’ll consider your unique situation and work with you to develop a plan designed to keep your asthma under control and breathing easy. Asthma can be scary, as in the case of an asthma attack, but you can and should feel comfortable and in control of your asthma condition.

Questions or concerns about your asthma? We’re here to help. REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT 


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