Asthma is a chronic condition which affects the lungs and results in the narrowing of the air passage which leads to reduced air flow to the lungs and hence the shortness of breath. The severity of the attack can range from mild to serious and differ from person to person and can even require medical attention. The most preferred way of dealing with an asthma attack is to use an inhaler which contains the required medication. But what about those unfortunate times when a person is left without an inhaler? Should you wait for the symptoms of asthma to subside or seek medical help? Let’s find out our options.
1. Sit Up Straight
Sitting up straight when you’re having an attack can help in keeping your airways open. Avoid lying down as it can worsen the symptoms.
2. Don’t Panic
Try to remain calm when you’re having an attack as panicking can worsen your symptoms. Watching TV or listening to calming music can also help while you wait for symptoms to subside or for medical help
3. Steady Your Breathing
Try to breathe very slowly and steadily. You can also try some of these breathing techniques to improve the symptoms:
- The Buteyko breathing technique involves breathing slowly through your nose instead of your mouth.
- The Papworth method requires using your nose and diaphragm in a particular way to breathe.
- Yoga breathing exercises.
4. Staying Away From Triggers
Triggers can further worsen your asthma attack so the best practice is staying away from them as much as possible. You should also try and identify your triggers. Some common triggers include:
- Allergens including certain food items, pet danders, and pollen.
- Irritants such as tobacco smoke and pollution.
- Certain medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and beta-blockers.
- Cold air or dry air
- Anxiety or stress
- Respiratory infections such as mycoplasma, flu, or common cold.
5. Calling For Medical Help
You should seek immediate medical attention when you notice any of these symptoms:
- Symptoms continue to worsen even after treatment.
- Unable to speak except in short phrases.
- When chest muscles start getting strained in an effort to speak.
- Shortness of breath starts getting severe, particularly in early morning or late at night.
- Feeling of drowsiness or tiredness.
- Your face or lips start appearing blue when you’re not coughing.
Common symptoms of Asthma:
- Severe shortness of breath
- Pain and/or tightness in chest
- Coughing or wheezing
- Fast heart rate
- Lower than normal peak flow (for those who use a peak flow meter)
The best way of preventing an asthma attack is to keep your asthma under control. Typically, two types of medications are used to for this purpose:
- Long-term medication: This involves medication that you take on a daily basis to control inflammation of the airway and prevent asthma attacks.
- Symptomatic medication: This is the rescue medication that you take for short-term relief if you experience an asthma attack.
Apart from taking medications and performing breathing exercises, you should also consider asking your physician for a personalized asthma action plan. This can better equip you to understand and control your asthma. Keep a printed copy of this plan with you and also on your phone so that your family members and peers know what to do in case of an asthma attack.