Asthma Attack: Symptoms, Identification, and Care

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Asthma attack
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Asthma is one of the most common illnesses of the respiratory tract around the globe that makes breathing difficult because of multiple reasons that may range from inflammation of the lungs to the production of extra mucus in the airways of the body.

An Asthma attack is marked by a sudden onset of the worsening of asthma symptoms which may be the result of tightening of the muscles leading to lesser air passage in the lungs. In an Asthma attack, the lining of the passageway may become swollen, narrow and excessive mucus is produced that further blocks the air from passing normally.

If these symptoms look relatable to you, or if you are here to understand more about an asthma attack to help a loved one in need, keep reading ahead to find out the answer of what to do in an asthma attack as well as the asthma attack symptoms.

Asthma attack symptoms

Asthma is an illness that is noticed in all age groups. However, asthma attack symptoms might look different as per different age groups. It is also worth remembering that experts have opined that the symptoms of an asthma attack are not completely universal. What is true for a person, may not be entirely true for another.

Hence, asthma attack symptoms vary from person to person. However, it is important to know some common symptoms to identify and recognize an asthma attack as soon as possible to get emergency care and treatment.

Before facing a full-blown asthma attack, there are mild asthma attack symptoms that will be manifested first, some of which are listed below:

  •  Feeling fatigued
  • Getting tired very easily, especially after some strenuous activity
  • Signs that may indicate cold-like nasal congestion, nasal irritation, runny nose, or irritation and tickle like feeling in the throat.
  • Face looking pale

These asthma attack symptoms paint the picture of how to know if you are having an asthma attack.  If you notice symptoms like these in yourself or your loved ones, seek treatment, sit upright, do not panic, and take one to ten puffs from your inhaler.

As written above asthma attacks appear different in different people. However, some common asthma attack symptoms are noticed in all as mentioned below:

  • Breathlessness or shortness of breath
  • Tightening of the chest area
  • Wheezing due to difficulty in breathing
  • Coughing as one tries to inhale air properly
  • Difficulty in talking coherently due to less air passage into the body

These above-written symptoms are noticed commonly in mild or minor asthma attacks. These symptoms create a picture of what does an asthma attack looks like which is mild in severity. 

Asthma attack

A mild asthma attack usually perishes away in a few minutes after proper treatment like using inhalers. But, if the mild one does not pass away, it may soon transform into a severe asthma attack. 

You will notice the following asthma attack symptoms when the mild one starts changing into a severe asthma attack.

  • Lips and nails may turn bluish in color
  • The chest becomes silent indicating an extreme lessening airflow, so less that even wheezing is not noticed
  • A blood pressure that reads low
  • Decreasing or low heart rate
  • A sense of confusion or panic

A severe asthma attack requires immediate and instantaneous medical attention and treatment. Severe asthma attacks are known to be life-threatening. After a severe episode of an asthma attack, your doctor may even advise you to stay under the medical eye for twenty-four to seventy-two hours depending on the severity of the asthma attack.  

Asthma attack causes

Among the causes of an asthma attack, certain illnesses like flu or sinusitis may make a person more prone to an asthma attack. Similarly, an infection of the upper respiratory tract may increase your chances of getting an asthma attack. Experts also suggest that you might experience an asthma attack when going through difficult emotional changes that cause an extreme and quick change in the breathing patterns.

Other than these causes, most asthma attacks are a result of triggers in the environment. Some commonly noticed triggers include:

  • Allergens like pollens, animal dander, dust mites, etc.
  • Strong or irritating odors like that of perfume
  • Other irritants in the air-borne like toxic smoke, fumes of chemicals, cigarette smoke, etc
  • Heavy workout or exercise
  • An intense emotional or stressful experience
  • Extreme weather changes like cold air, humidity, dry air, etc.

To keep yourself safe from experiencing an asthma attack, try identifying your triggers and then stay vigilant in keeping yourself away from exposure to these triggers. Additionally, carry your inhaler with you all the time if you suffer from asthma.

What to do in an asthma attack?

An asthma attack brings with itself feelings of confusion and panic. It is natural to feel so, but it is important to stay prepared in case any emergency arises.

  • Call an ambulance.
  • In the time for the ambulance to arrive, take your quick-relief medication as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Grab your inhaler and take one-two puffs with some space in between. Take a maximum of ten puffs, if the asthma attack is mild, it will most probably go away in this duration.
  • If the asthma attack got triggered due to an allergen, it is okay to take an anti-allergen medication as well to provide some relief.
  • Avoid all triggers and stay calm during an asthma attack.
  • Use a nebulizer when there is difficulty in taking a rescue inhaler. The nebulizer changes the liquid asthma medication into a mist which is then inhaled deeply into the lungs. Nebulizers are used mostly in the case of children.
  • If the symptoms don’t subside, call your doctor to seek treatment immediately.

It is always advisable to consult with your doctor and make an asthma attack action plan. Make sure to follow the plan diligently, step by step when faced with an asthma attack. Share the same action plan with your friends, family, and other near and dear ones so that even they are hands-on with how to help you when an attack arrives.

It is also helpful to keep the action plan saved on your phone for emergency purposes. Moreover, take your medications regularly and always carry your rescue inhaler with you at all times, and in all places to always stay prepared lest any difficulty arises.

Remember, when it comes to asthma attacks, prevention is better than cure.