HEALTH PROMOTION RESOURCE CENTRE
Asthma is a chronic lung disease with recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing, which vary in severity and frequency from person to person. Symptoms may occur several times in a day or week in affected individuals, and for some people become worse during physical activity or at night.
What Is an Asthma Attack?
An asthma attack may include coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, and trouble breathing. The attack happens in your body’s airways, which are the paths that carry air to your lungs. As the air moves through your lungs, the airways become smaller, like the branches of a tree are smaller than the tree trunk. During an asthma attack, the sides of the airways in your lungs swell and the airways shrink. Less air gets in and out of your lungs, and mucous that your body makes clogs up the airways even more.
An asthma attack can happen when you are exposed to “asthma triggers”. Your triggers can be very different from those of someone else with asthma. Know your triggers and learn how to avoid them. Watch out for an attack when you can’t avoid the triggers and always ensure you have a filled non expired Ventolin (salbutamol) inhaler with you at all times.
• indoor allergens (for example, house dust mites in bedding, carpets and stuffed furniture, pollution and pet dander)
• outdoor allergens (such as pollens , moulds, grass)
• tobacco smoke
• chemical irritants in the workplace
• air pollution,( smoke, burning wood).
Other triggers can include cold air, extreme emotional arousal such as anger or fear, and physical exercise. Even certain medications can trigger asthma: aspirin and other non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, and beta-blockers (which are used to treat high blood pressure, heart conditions and migraine).
What to do if you are having an Asthmatic attack
• The first step to relieve an asthma attack is to use your quick-acting bronchodilator (such as salbutamol) usual dose is 2 puffs, breathed slowly and deeply.
• In a sudden severe crisis of breathing, you can safely use as many as 4 puffs at a time. Under normal circumstances, it is usually recommended that you use your quick-relief bronchodilator no more than 4 times a day.
• To treat an asthma attack, however, you can safely use it as often as every 20 minutes for as long as 2 hours, if needed.
• If available, a compressor with nebulizer can be used in the same way, every 20 minutes for several doses. The major side-effects to anticipate are a jittery feeling and racing of the heart.
How best to deal with an asthma attack depends in part on how bad the attack is. Sometimes you can recognize a severe attack based on how you feel. You are having a severe attack if you have shortness of breath walking slowly on level ground, if your speaking is interrupted to catch your breath, if you are perspiring and can’t lie down because of difficulty breathing.
Identify Indications For Emergency Care:
One of the most important skills as a patient or parent of a child with asthma is to know when you need to call your doctor or just head straight to the emergency department. All of the following symptoms are indications that you or your child needs to seek a healthcare provider for emergency care immediately:
• Wheezing that occurs while breathing both in and out
• Coughing that has become continuous
• Difficulty breathing
• Breathing very fast
• Retractions where your skin is pulled in as you breath
• Shortness of breath
• Difficulty talking in complete sentences
• Becoming pale
• Becoming anxious
• Blue lips or fingernails called cyanosis