6 symptoms of an asthma attack

Asthma attack, also called an asthma exacerbation, the airways become swollen and inflamed. The muscles around the airways contract and the airways produce extra mucus, causing the breathing (bronchial) tubes to narrow.

During an attack, you may cough, wheeze and have trouble breathing. Symptoms of a minor asthmaa attack get better with prompt home treatment. A severe asthma attack that doesn’t improve with home treatment can become a life-threatening emergency.

The key to stopping an asthma attack is recognizing and treating an asthmaa flare-up early. Follow the treatment plan you worked out with your doctor ahead of time. Your treatment plan should include what to do when your asthmaa starts getting worse, and how to deal with an asthmaa attack in progress.

Some people with asthmaa may go for extended periods without having any symptoms, interrupted by periodic worsening of their symptoms called asthmaa attacks. Others might have asthma symptoms every day. In addition, some people may only have asthmaa during exercise, or asthmaa with viral infections like colds.

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Mild asthmaa attacks are generally more common. Usually, the airways open up within a few minutes to a few hours. Severe attacks are less common but last longer and require immediate medical help. It is important to recognize and treat even mild asthmaa symptoms to help you prevent severe episodes and keep asthmaa under better control.

symptoms of an asthmaa attack can include:

Severe wheezing when breathing both in and out
Coughing that won’t stop
Very rapid breathing
Chest tightness or pressure
Tightened neck and chest muscles, called retractions
Difficulty talking
Feelings of anxiety or panic
Pale, sweaty face
Blue lips or fingernails
Worsening symptoms despite use of your medications

Without immediate treatment, such as with your asthma inhaler or bronchodilator, your breathing will become more labored. If you use a peak flow meter at this time, the reading will probably be less than 50%. Many asthma action plans suggest interventions starting at 80% of normal.

As your lungs continue to tighten, you will be unable to use the peak flow meter at all. Gradually, your lungs will tighten so there is not enough air movement to produce wheezing. You need to be transported to a hospital immediately. Unfortunately, some people interpret the disappearance of wheezing as a sign of improvement and fail to get prompt emergency care.

If you do not receive adequate asthma treatment, you may eventually be unable to speak and will develop a bluish coloring around your lips. This color change, known as cyanosis, means you have less and less oxygen in your blood. Without aggressive treatment for this asthma emergency, you may lose consciousness and eventually die.

Asthma reliever medication helps open up your airways quickly to relieve symptoms during an asthma attack. They work within minutes and the effects can last for about 4 hours. One common reliever medication is salbutamol (Ventolin). You or your child may need to use asthma relievers more regularly until the symptoms are gone, but use them as prescribed by your doctor.

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