An asthma attack is caused when your airways are constricted due to multiple factors. During an attack, the airways get swollen or inflamed and there is also thick mucus formation in the lungs. The muscles in the airways tighten up which is a symptom of bronchospasm.
All these factors involving mucus production, inflammation and bronchospasm can lead to an asthma attack where an individual faces difficulty in breathing, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and difficulty in performing everyday activities.
Other symptoms include: chest tightness, difficulty in talking, extreme coughing, feeling anxious and panicking, blue fingernails or lips, etc. If the symptoms continue to increase even when you are religiously taking your medicines, it means that the asthma attack could be harmful. A lot of people have mild asthma attacks and after a few minutes or few hours the airways open up with treatment. Severe asthma attacks are very uncommon but they require immediate medical attention and treatment.
For a mild attack to stay under control, you can consider keeping these points in mind:
- Don’t Panic: if you feel like you are getting an attack, first of all, don’t panic! Panicking makes the condition worse. Sit down at one place and try to take deep breaths.
- Use an Inhaler: Make sure you have your inhaler wherever you go. Use your inhaler with a minimum gap of 2-minutes. In case, you have a nebulizer, it is suggested that you use this instead of an inhaler. If the symptoms persist or worsen, you need to get medical attention.
- Peak Flow meter: If it is feasible, you can use a peak flow meter to check the intensity of the attack. The peak flow meter can determine how mild or bad the attack is.
- Follow-up with a doctor: Make it a point that your doctor and your family knows about your attack history, even if it is a mild attack. The doctors can make a note of it in your asthma action plan and also determine if you need further medical attention or if the dosage of your medication has to be changed.
Asthma triggers are difficult to avoid completely, but try and keep away from dust, molds, cockroaches, etc. and protect yourself from pollen. Rush to an emergency department if you feel that your inhaler is not helping or if your breathing is getting worse along with you feeling drowsy and if your peak flow is getting worse after a treatment.
Severe asthma attacks if not treated properly can be fatal. Visit a doctor at least once in 6-months to get a comprehensive exam and do get your children tested too. Make sure you have prior knowledge about your body’s asthma care and be prepared to prevent the asthma attacks at any time.