Asthma can change over time, so periodic adjustments to the treatment plan are needed to keep everyday symptoms under control. If asthma is not well controlled, it increases the risk of future asthma attacks.
During an asthma attack, the muscles around the airways become swollen and inflamed, causing narrowing of the bronchial tubes. Coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing may occur. An asthma attack can be in adolescence, with symptoms that can be quickly improved with home treatment or more severe. A severe asthma attack that doesn't improve with home treatment can become a life-threatening emergency.
The key to preventing an asthma attack is diagnosing and treating an asthma attack early. Follow the treatment plan worked out with your doctor first. This plan should include what to do when your asthma starts to worsen and how to deal with an asthma attack as it progresses.
Severe shortness of breath, pain or tightness in the chest, and coughing or wheezing.
Low peak expiratory flow (PEF), if using a peak flow meter.
Using quick relief with ampoules is not enough to curb worsening symptoms.
The signs and symptoms of an asthma attack vary from person to person. Work with your doctor to identify specific signs and symptoms of worsening asthma and what to do when they occur. If asthma symptoms continue to appear even worse after taking the medication as directed by your doctor, an emergency room visit may be needed. Your doctor can help diagnose an asthma emergency, so you'll know when to get help.
If asthma is clear, immediately follow the treatment steps and prescribed by the doctor before taking it in writing. If symptoms and peak expiratory flow (PEF) improve, that treatment may be necessary. If symptoms do not improve with home treatment, urgent care should be sought.
When asthma symptoms flare, follow the instructions on the application for quick, emergency action. If peak flow metering is used to monitor asthma, readings vary, PEF 50-79 percent at best is an indication of the need to act quickly with medication prescribed by your doctor.
Asthma can change over time, so periodic adjustments to the treatment plan are needed to keep everyday symptoms under control. If asthma is not well controlled, it increases the risk of future asthma attacks. Persistent pneumonia means asthma can flare up at any time.
If you have frequent asthma attacks, low peak flow, or other signs that your asthma is not well controlled, see your doctor.
Seek medical attention right away if you have signs of a severe asthma attack, which include:
Shortness of breath or severe wheezing, especially at night or early in the morning.
Inability to speak more than short phrases due to difficulty breathing.
Chest muscles contract to breathe.
Low peak flow when using a peak flow meter.
An oversensitive immune system causes the airways (bronchial tubes) to become inflamed and swollen when exposed to certain triggers. Asthma is caused differently from person to person. Common asthma triggers include:
Pollen, pets, mold, and dust mites.
Upper respiratory tract infection.
Inhale cold, dry air.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
For many people, asthma symptoms are worse with a respiratory infection such as a cold. Some people have seizures that are caused by something in their work environment. Sometimes, an asthma attack occurs without an obvious cause.
Anyone with asthma is at risk for an asthma attack.
There may be an increased risk of a severe asthma attack if:
Have had a severe asthma attack in the past.
Have been hospitalized or had to go to the emergency room for asthma.
Use more than two quick-relief inhalers/month.
Asthma attacks tend to be sudden with worsening symptoms before aura is noticed.
Have other chronic health problems, such as sinusitis or nasal polyps.
Asthma attacks can be serious. Can disrupt daily activities such as sleeping, studying, working, and exercising, causing a significant impact on quality of life and possibly disrupting the lives of those around them.
A severe asthma attack means perhaps a trip to the emergency room, which can be stressful and expensive.
A very severe asthma attack can lead to respiratory arrest and death.
Preparations for medical examination
Work with your doctor to create a plan. This plan should discuss asthma treatment.
Save peak flow results and all medications.
Be prepared to discuss symptoms and concerns. Often, periodic changes in treatment are needed to keep asthma under control and prevent asthma attacks.
Be prepared to demonstrate how to use the tube (spray). Improper use can reduce the effectiveness of the drug.
Time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help make the most of your time together. Some good questions to ask your doctor include:
What steps should be taken to keep asthma under control?
Does the medication or treatment plan need to be changed?
What are the signs of an impending asthma attack?
As asthma signs and symptoms worsen, what do I need to do to prevent it?
What steps need to be taken to prevent future asthma attacks?
When to go to the emergency room or seek urgent treatment?
Having more heartburn. What can I do to prevent this?
Do you need a flu injection?
What measures can be taken during cold and flu season?
In addition to the questions you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask any questions you don't understand.
Tests and diagnostics
For adults and children over the age of five, lung function testing is used to check. Poor lung function is a sign that asthma is not well controlled. In some cases, lung function tests are used in an emergency to help check the severity of an asthma attack or treatment.
Lung function tests include:
Peak flow. Peak flow measurement can also be used at home to monitor lung function. The results of this test are known as Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF). A peak flow test is done by blowing into a tube as hard and fast as possible with one breath.
Spirometry. In spirometry, take deep breaths and forcefully exhale into a tube connected to a machine called a spirometer. A common spirometry measurement is forced expiratory volume, which is how much air can be inhaled in one second. The results of this test are called the FEV. Spirometry can also measure how much air the lungs can hold and the ratio they can inhale and exhale.
Measure nitric oxide. A newer diagnostic test measures the amount of nitric oxide gas present in the breath. High nitric oxide indicates inflammation of the bronchial tubes. To do this test, exhale slowly into a loudspeaker attached to an electronic measuring device. The device is attached to a computer with a screen displaying the test results.
Quantification of arterial oxygen. This test is used during severe asthma attacks. Measures the amount of oxygen in the blood through the fingernail and takes only a few seconds.
Treatments and drugs
If you have an asthma attack, follow the steps in a plan you worked with your doctor. If symptoms do not improve, seek immediate medical attention. The treatment step to stop an asthma attack usually involves the use of 2 to 6 ampoules of albuterol, which takes a few minutes of a quick-acting medication. In general, the drug is used less often in children and adults with less severe symptoms.
If peak flow measurement is used to monitor asthma, the readings vary, 50 - 79 percent peak flow is best an indication of the need for albuterol or a rapid-acting inhaler. Regularly checking peak flow is important, because lung function may decline before any worsening of asthma signs or symptoms is noticed.
HFA ampoules: A recent change: The chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the quick-acting ampoules have been replaced by tubes called hydrofluoroalkanes (HFAs). Unlike CFC inhalers, HFAs are not harmful to the environment. Spray from the new tube may have different flavors. Although the spray from the HFA ampoules may not seem strong, still get the full dose.
Emergency treatment. If you go to the emergency room because of an asthma attack, you need medicine to get it under control right away. These may include:
Beta-agonists, such as albuterol. These drugs are drugs like fast-acting drugs. You may need to use a machine called a nebulizer, which creates a mist that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs.
Oral corticosteroids. These medications help reduce lung inflammation and control asthma symptoms For more severe, severe asthma attacks, corticosteroids may be given.
Ipratropium (Atrovent). Ipratropium is sometimes used as a bronchodilator to treat severe asthma attacks, especially if albuterol is not completely effective.
Intubation, mechanical ventilation, and oxygen. If an asthma attack is life-threatening, your doctor may place a breathing tube down your throat into your upper airway. Using an oxygen pump into your lungs helps you breathe while your doctor gives you medicine to control your asthma.
After your asthma symptoms get better, your doctor may ask you to stay in the emergency department for a few hours or longer to make sure you don't have another asthma attack. When your doctor feels your asthma is controlled enough, you can go home. Your doctor will give you instructions on what to do if you have an asthma attack.
If asthma symptoms do not improve after emergency treatment, your doctor may recommend going to the hospital and giving medication every hour or every few hours. If you have severe asthma symptoms, you may need to breathe oxygen through a mask. In some severe cases, a persistent asthma attack requires an intensive care stay (ICU).
Lifestyle and Remedies
All asthma attacks require treatment with an inhaled emergency medication such as albuterol. One of the key steps in preventing an asthma attack is avoiding the trigger.
If your asthma attacks seem to be externally triggered, your doctor can help learn to minimize your exposure to them. Allergy testing can help determine the cause of an allergy.
Frequent hand washing can help reduce the risk of cold viruses.
If the disease is triggered by exercise in the cold, a mask or towel can be used until it warms up.
The best way to avoid an asthma attack is to make sure it is controlled first. This means monitoring symptoms and adjusting medications.
While the risk of an asthma attack cannot be ruled out, it is less likely to control the disease. See your doctor if you're following your treatment plan, but still have frequent or bothersome symptoms or low peak flow. This is a sign that the disease is not well controlled, and it is important to work with your doctor to change treatment.
If asthma symptoms flare-up in the presence of a cold or flu, take steps to avoid an asthma attack by watching lung function and symptoms and adjusting treatment as needed. Be sure to reduce your allergen exposure.
In cold weather, a mask must be worn.