Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that can cause the airways in the lungs to become inflamed. When asthma symptoms escalate, there will be difficulty in moving the air in and out, making it different for the person to breathe.
Read on to find out what asthma is, what are the common triggers, and how to effectively manage an asthma attack.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic (or lifelong) disease that affects nearly 2.5 million people in Australia. Many of these cases are female adults and a certain percentage of children. There are thousands of emergency hospital admissions for this condition among children ages seven and below and many more, including asthmatic adults.
When a person has asthma, their airways tend to go into spasms, resulting in chest tightening. The lining of the airways becomes inflamed, which causes extreme difficulty in breathing.
There is no exact list of what can cause asthma attacks, but we do know that certain genetic, environmental, and occupational factors or ‘triggers’ have been linked to developing asthma.
Common triggers may include air pollution, cold weather, smoke inhalation, or pollen exposure can make the airways swell even more. Other factors that may lead to asthma attacks are physical exertion or emotional outburst.
A severe asthma attack requires immediate medical attention and should be taken seriously. Learn to recognise the signs and how to perform first aid for effective asthma management.
Signs And Symptoms
Not all people will experience the same symptoms, but the most common indication of asthma attacks include:
- Shortness of breath or chest tightness
- Wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe)
- Chronic cough that lasts more than a week
- Signs of cold or allergies (sneezing, runny nose, cough, nasal congestion, sore throat, and headache)
- Fast heartbeat
- Feeling tired, easily upset, irritable, or moody
- Blue lips or fingers
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
Take note that the person may not have all these symptoms or may experience different symptoms at different times. It may also vary from one attack to the next, being mild during one and severe during other times.
It is important to recognise and treat asthma symptoms to prevent severe episodes and keep the condition under control.
First Aid For Asthma Attack
The best time to create an action plan for an asthma attack is before it happens. If diagnosed with the condition, work with the doctor to create an Asthma Action Plan which contains steps to do when the symptoms start.
Along with the action plan, here are steps to do for effective asthma management:
- Have the person sit upright to help open their airway. Avoid bending over or lying down, as this constricts the airway even more.
- Take medications exactly as the doctor prescribed. (Note: Not everyone with asthma takes the same medicine).
- Practice breathing exercises. Reduce the number of breaths and keep the airways open longer for easier breathing.
- Stay away from triggers. Try to move into clean air and get away from triggers to avoid further effects.
- Get medical help. Call triple zero (000) and ask for emergency assistance
if the symptoms start to get out of control.
Talking to your doctor about the symptoms is also part of the process, especially for untriggered attacks.
Asthma is a lifelong disease that can bring serious complications – even life-threatening. There is no permanent cure for asthma, but the good news is that proper management can go a long way in making sure that asthmatic people remain safe and healthy.
Having an asthma action plan and knowing first aid for asthma attacks can make people with this chronic condition remain active and symptom-free while living their everyday lives.
Enrol in a first aid course to know more about effective asthma management and first aid.