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How to recognise the signs of an Asthma attack

Asthma is a lung condition which causes occasional difficulty in breathing. Asthma attacks occur when the airways narrow, and cause suffers to struggle to breathe. Asthma attack symptoms often start in childhood but can be developed at any age. There isn’t a cure for the condition, but there are lots of types of asthma attack treatment available in order to help.

What causes asthma attacks?

A commonly asked question is ‘what is an asthma attack?’. Asthma attacks occur when the muscles surrounding the airways contracts. This narrows the airways and can cause symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness.

What causes asthma attacks? Certain things can trigger an asthma attack, such as dust mites, air pollution, smoke, mould, pets and disinfectants. Signs of asthma attack can also These triggers can all irritate your airways, bringing on signs of an asthma attack.

Asthma attack symptoms vary depending on how severe the attack is. A mild asthma attack may last around a few minutes, whereas a severe asthma attack can last hours or days. Signs of asthma attack to look out for include shortness of breath, worsening cough and the need to use a preventative inhaler more than usual.

What does an asthma attack feel like? Signs of asthma attack which is already happening are wheezing, rattling or tightening in the chest and difficulty breathing or speaking.

A severe asthma attack will have symptoms such as rapid breathing, changes in colour of the skin, rapid movements of the chest/ ribcage. If someone is experiencing a severe asthma attack, it’s important to call 999 immediately. Whilst you are waiting for an ambulance, ensure the person sits up straight and continues to use their inhaler as advised.

After an asthma attack, regardless of the severity, it’s important to book a follow-up appointment with your doctor. They can provide you with a health check and see if your medication needs to be updated.

Asthma attack treatment

There are many types of asthma attack treatment available to ease asthma attack symptoms. The main asthma attack treatment is inhalers, which allow you to breathe in medication. Some inhalers work by preventing symptoms and others work by relieving symptoms when they occur. There are also combination inhalers available for people who need inhalers that do both things.

Reliever inhalers are typically blue and are the most common type. They are used to treat asthma attack symptoms when they occur and should work within minutes. If you have to use a reliever inhaler more than 3 times a week, speak to your GP as you may require additional asthma attack treatment.

Preventative inhalers are taken when a person must use a reliever inhaler too often. They are used daily in order to prevent asthma attack symptoms from occurring. They contain steroid medication.

A peak flow meter is a device which can monitor how well your lungs are working. This can help doctors understand how best to adapt asthma attack treatment to best suit the patient.

Ventolin Evohaler (Blue Inhaler) - Asthma Treatment
Ventolin Evohaler

Severe asthma attack

Can you die from an asthma attack? 3 people a day die from asthma attacks in the UK. A severe asthma attack will require medical assistance straight away. It’s important that friends and family know how to help you in an emergency. Asthma UK has a wide range of resources available to help you be able to manage your asthma, including an action plan should you suffer a severe asthma attack. It’s a great idea to create an action plan and share it with your caregivers and close contacts so they know what to do in the event of you suffering an asthma attack.

Asthma UK’s Risk Checker is a useful tool in finding out your risk of having an asthma attack within the next year. If your asthma is affecting your life, it’s important to contact your GP.

If someone you know is experiencing a severe asthma attack, it’s important to call 999 immediately. Whilst you are waiting for an ambulance, ensure the person sits up straight and continues to use their inhaler as advised.

Mild asthma attack

A mild asthma attack may be treated with asthma medication, sometimes they can even resolve on their own. It’s vital that asthma sufferers discuss their action plan with their healthcare team. It guides family, friends and caregivers through how best to offer asthma attack treatment depending on their symptoms.

We are here to help you with your asthma condition. We know how difficult it can be to manage asthma, so we are here for you if you want or need your asthma attack treatment urgently or need it to be delivered to your doorstep. However, our asthma service is not designed to replace a regular asthma review with your GP. You must have had such a review recently before we can dispense asthma medication to you. We must see evidence of a prior diagnosis of asthma by your GP and that you have previously been supplied the requested inhaler.

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