What is an Asthma Attack: Definition and Explanation
An asthma attack is a reaction produced by the organism of a person with asthma in response to contact with an allergen or irritant the person is especially sensitive to. Asthma attack causes the muscles around the airways to suddenly and rapidly tighten, narrowing the airway passage and greatly limiting the amount of air that can get to the lungs (a reaction known as a bronchospasm). The airways also become more inflamed and swollen, further limiting breathing capacity. Other asthma attack symptoms include:
- Sudden worsening of symptoms despite using your medications;
- Chest pain, tightness, feeling of constriction or pressure;
- Persistent cough that does not go away for several minutes;
- Wheezing - a hissing or whistling sound is heard when you breathe.
- Constriction of neck and chest muscles;
- Discoloration of the face, pale or purple lips;
- Short, rapid, and shallow breathing;
- Panic attack, state of extreme anxiety or fear;
- Increased perspiration.
Asthma Attack Treatment Instructions
Listed below are some of the most important directions to follow if you are having an asthma attack:
- The only sure way to stop an asthma attack is to use a bronchodilator asthma inhaler - in amost cases it will instantly improve your condition and alleviate the asthma attack symptoms.
- If you do not have a bronchodilator beside you or if you have trouble accessing it, call for emergency medical help - 911, 112, 999, or 119, depending on your location.
- If you did manage to gain access to a bronchodilator but used it later than expected, you should still call for emergency medical assistance. You may need some treatment after suffering oxygen deprivation.
- Call out to people nearby for assistance if you have trouble using the phone.
- While waiting for help to arrive, you should find a place to sit down. If there isn't any, sit on the floor or on the ground. Do not lie down! Maintain an upright position while sitting.
- After sitting, attempt to breathe OUT as much air as you can - this will free the lungs of stale air without oxygen in it and allow new fresh air to get in. Inhale slowly and calmly, as deep as you can. This step is important since most people will start to instinctively gasp for air in an attempt to breathe.
- Try to breathe slowly and deeply. Concentrating on every inhale and exhale will help relieve some of the anxiety.
- As help arrives, do not try to stand up on your own if you are still not feeling well. Remain seated and follow the instructions of the ER personnel.
Additional details on Asthma Attack Treatment
Beside the mentioned basic instructions and the use of a bronchodilator asthma inhaler, there are several other options you may use in case of an emergency. However, it is very important to know exactly if these methods will or will not worsen your symptoms; they may work for some people but not for others. You should consult a professional pulmonologist to figure out what things may become triggers for your asthma and to learn more about what is an asthma attack.
Some of the "home made" emergency asthma attack solutions include:
- Caffeine - is known to temporary ease the symptoms of asthma in some people. Caffeine is contained in coffee, tea (green tea in particular), coke, Red Bull, and several other carbonized drink brands;
- Antihistamine-based allergy medications - many cases of asthma attacks are caused by allergies, and a prompt use of an allergy medication can greatly improve your symptoms. Clarinex and Xyzal are among the most popular brands.
- Hot water steam - inhalations of hot, moist air such as the one produced by running a shower at maximum hot, is known to slightly improve the symptoms of asthma. Again, no not try this method in case of emergency if you have not tested it out before.