How To Recognize an Asthma Attack

Asthma is a common disease that can make it extremely difficult to breathe. During an attack, your airways swell and constrict. This may lead to coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and chest tightness.

What can trigger an asthma attack?

Some of the most common encounters can trigger an asthma attack. These include encounters with animals, dust, pollen, mold, exercise (for exercise-induced asthma), smoke, stress, and chemicals in the air.

You may have heard that activity can trigger asthma symptoms. Asthma symptoms during exercise can resolve or improve with using a rescue inhaler 15 minutes before exercise.

There are various exercises that individuals with asthma can participate in. Yoga is a great option. It increases your heart rate and burns calories. Swimming is also great for asthma patients. Keep your breathing steady, and perform even strokes with low intensity. Other exercises include weightlifting and a light game of tennis.

Recognizing an asthma attack

It is important to recognize the symptoms of an asthma attack, since attacks can last from a few minutes to a few days. Even if you have asthma, you might go for extended periods without showing any symptoms or experiencing an attack.

Some symptoms of a severe asthma attack include severe uncontrollable coughing, sucking in between the ribs when breathing (also called intercostal retractions), persistent wheezing, and/or shortness of breath.

If you have experienced severe symptoms, then the asthma treatment plan you set up with your doctor might have to be adjusted. It is advisable to head to your nearest hospital instead of your local asthma clinic if you have severe symptoms of asthma. You local allergist will provide you with an asthma action plan to help determine where to seek medical care.

Planning for an asthma attack

If a doctor has diagnosed you with asthma, then your doctor has most likely spoken with you about a plan for when you think an attack occurs.

A peak flow meter measures the speed of your breathing. If you have peak flow values measuring between 50 to 80 percent, then you may be having  . If your measuring below 50, then maybe having a severe attack. Of note, the peak flow meter can be effort dependent.

One of the most important parts of your prevention plan involves stopping the asthma attack early enough when it is just called a “flare up.” Your doctor will detail with you a plan for when the flare-up worsens or at the moment when you have a full-blown asthma attack.

For more information

Asthma attacks can be serious. It is crucial that you recognize when you are having an attack but also that you have a plan to treat it. Contact Arkansas Allergy and Asthma at 501-227-5210 for more information or to schedule an appointment.