What Are Asthma Attacks Or Flare-Ups?
An asthma flare-up is when your lung function or asthma symptoms are noticeably worse than what you usually experience. It’s possible for asthma attacks to develop gradually, over a period of days, or to come on quickly.
When the flare-up happens very suddenly, we call it an asthma attack. By working with your general practitioners, you can create an asthma action plan to help you prepare for these scenarios. It’s important that the people close to you are familiar with and have a copy of your asthma action plan to help you in these situations.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Asthma Attacks?
Asthma attacks are categorised as
- Mild to moderate
Even mild asthma signs require you to take action, as they run the risk of becoming worse very quickly.
Treatment For Asthma Attack: What To Do And When To Seek Medical Attention
Signs of mild to moderate asthma attacks include having minor difficulties with breathing and possibly having a cough or wheezing, but still being able to speak in full sentences and walk. The course of action for asthma attacks when the signs are mild to moderate is to begin asthma first aid.
When the flare-up has progressed to severe symptoms, you will have obvious difficulty breathing but will not be able to say a full sentence using one full breath. You may feel the skin pulling at the base of your neck or between your ribs. When you use your reliever, the effects do not last as long as usual. In this scenario, you must dial 000 for an ambulance and begin asthma first aid while you wait.
When the symptoms are life-threatening, you must seek immediate medical attention. Dial 000 for an ambulance and begin asthma first aid. A life-threatening flare-up is typified by gasping for breath, confusion and or exhaustion, collapsing, rapid deterioration of symptoms, and lips turning blue. You might not experience any relief when you use an inhaler.
Treatment For Asthma Attack: First Aid Steps
- If a person is having an asthma attack, do not leave them unattended. Sit the person upright.
- Next, give the person four puffs of their blue or grey reliever inhaler. First, shake the inhaler and put one puff into the spacer. Ask the person to inhale four times.
- Wait for four minutes to see if the symptoms improve.
- If the symptoms do not improve, ask the person to take four more puffs from the inhaler.
- If the person’s breathing has not returned to normal, please dial 000 for an ambulance and let the phone operator know the person is having an asthma attack.
- While you wait for medical attention to arrive, continue to give the person four puffs every four minutes.
If you are assisting someone who has asthma, it’s important to understand asthma first aid. If you are unsure of what to do, be sure to ask your general practitioners for guidance when drafting your asthma action plan.
Typically, blue inhalers are reliever medications. These are available from the pharmacy or from your general practitioners. Reliever medications are also referred to as rescue medications as they are quick-acting. Blue reliever medications can usually be used if you are unsure of whether the person is having an asthma attack.
Your doctor may ask you to continue using your reliever inhaler every few hours for a day or two after the attack.
Managing Asthma Attacks
If you find yourself needing to use your reliever inhaler more than three times a week, you should bring it to your general practitioner’s attention. You may need help in identifying and managing your triggers, or your medication may need to be reviewed.
Some of the more common triggers of asthma attacks include
- Pet hair
- Tobacco smoke
- Strong perfumes or scents
- Sinus infections and seasonal allergies
- Thunderstorms or high humidity weather.
You may also find that your asthma flares up in cold weather, when you are under a lot of stress, and when you have a respiratory infection. Some people find that exercising in cold weather can trigger flare-ups. If this happens to you, try to begin your session with a scarf wrapped around your mouth to warm up the air before it gets to your lungs.
Avoiding your triggers, when possible, is the best course of action, but this is not always possible. Make sure you take your preventive medication as prescribed, even if your symptoms are mild and you think you don’t need to.
For help with treatment for asthma attack or to make an appointment with one of our general practitioners, please give us a call: (02) 9884 9300.
Asthma emergency first aid
What to do at home for an asthma attack