“When I have an asthma attack, I feel like a fish with no water.”
This line from an ad made famous by the Ad Council, made the symptoms of asthma vividly understandable to those of us who have never suffered from the illness.
However, many of us are probably still unaware of the actual mechanics behind an asthma attack, or how they can be supportive of others who may be experiencing them.
Asthma affects almost 10 percent of the population, and is the most common chronic childhood illness.
It’s likely that you know someone who suffers from asthma. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of an attack so you can help them or get them medical assistance if needed.
What is Asthma?
Asthma occurs when the airways of the lungs narrow and swell. Asthma symptoms can occur when a person with the condition is exposed to allergens, irritants in the air and extreme weather conditions.
Asthma flare-ups can be very frightening, and the most severe can actually be life-threatening. However, while asthma is not curable, there are steps that asthma sufferers can take to reduce the frequency and severity of incidences.
What are the Symptoms of an Asthma Attack?
The most recognizable symptoms of an asthma attack are difficulty breathing and speaking. Asthma sufferers may cough and wheeze; during an attack, they may experience anxiety, which often makes the attack worse.
In the instance of a prolonged attack, the person’s fingers and lips may turn gray or blue from a lack of oxygen.
How to Help Someone Having an Asthma Attack
When you think of asthma, your first thought is probably of an inhaler. Many asthma patients carry one with them at all times, in order to be prepared in the event of an asthma attack.
If someone around you experiences an asthma attack, the most important things you can do are to help them get comfortable and help them use their medications (typically the inhaler).
Most people with asthma will keep their medications with them at all times; however, if they happen to not have them on hand, you should consider contacting emergency services immediately.
When a person who is close to you, like a family member or friend, suffers from asthma, you may also feel anxious at the thought of an asthma flare-up occurring on your watch. To reduce that fear and empower yourself to support them, make sure you know their emergency plan and have discussed how to handle the situation if they experience asthma symptoms.
When to Seek Medical Attention
Depending on the level of severity, you may respond differently to asthma-related symptoms. Asthma symptoms can range from a mild allergic reaction to a dangerous anaphylactic response.
Reduce and remove triggers. Preventing exposure to asthma triggers in the environment can help to reduce asthma symptoms. For example, smoking or being around smoke can trigger a reaction. So can exposure to pollen, animal dander, mold or a number of other environmental issues.
Be aware of the person’s specific potential triggers. Some people’s asthma can be triggered by things like physical activity, stress, or the climate. Be aware of these potential issues, so you can help them avoid these concerns, or can be aware of early warning symptoms if they are engaging in an activity that could provoke asthma symptoms.
Time the attack. While you shouldn’t be focused completely on timing, be aware of the length of time that an attack persists. Most asthma attacks last less than 10 minutes. If one goes on longer than 10-15 minutes, seeking medical attention is the wisest course of action.
Determine the severity of the attack. If an attack is mild or moderate, you may consider seeking support from your nearest urgent care clinic. They can provide you with support and quick-acting medications to alleviate asthma-related issues.
If an attack is severe, contact 911 immediately. Anaphylaxis symptoms can go above and beyond the symptoms of a traditional asthma attack and include swelling, wheezing, flushed or pale skin, dizziness and fainting.
If you have someone in your life who suffers from asthma, it’s important that you provide them support.
Let them know they’re not alone in dealing with their symptoms. Offer your support by knowing the location of their medications, being aware of their emergency plan and knowing the location of your nearest urgent care and emergency locations.
Prime Urgent Care can help with treatment of asthma flare-ups. In addition, our medical professionals can provide support and relief for other symptoms that may be complicating or worsening asthma issues, including allergies and colds.
Visit your nearest location today and let us help you as you build an emergency plan for asthma treatment for you or your loved one.