According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of asthma cases in the U.S. has been rising since the 1980s. Approximately 24 million Americans have asthma and it is the leading chronic disease in children. Severe asthma attacks can cause death; approximately 10 Americans die each day due to asthma.
An asthma attack occurs when bronchial tubes become swollen, inflamed and obstructed. When this happens, air passages are narrowed, making it difficult to breathe. Asthma attacks can vary from mild to severe, and even can cause respiratory arrest and death. Symptoms include severe shortness of breath, chest tightness, constant coughing, wheezing and difficulty performing normal daily activities.
For asthma sufferers, having an action plan is key. A written plan is developed by your doctor and highlights daily treatments and includes information on how to handle worsening asthma and asthma attacks. Following an action plan can help control asthma, manage worsening symptoms and prevent a full-blown attack.
IF A SEVERE ATTACK OCCURS, THERE ARE STEPS TO TAKE IN ORDER TO QUICKLY AND FULLY RECOVER
- USE A QUICK-RELIEF MEDICATION
- If available, use a quick-relief medication (ie: albuterol). Typically administered by an inhaler or nebulizer, these medications are used to treat asthma attacks by relaxing airway muscles and reducing inflammation.
- SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION
- If symptoms do not improve, continue using the quick-relief medications and either contact your physician or proceed to the nearest urgent care center.
- If symptoms worsen, proceed to the nearest emergency room.
- Call 911 if lips or fingernails turn blue, there is profuse sweating, difficulty breathing, wheezing, or coughing becomes severe.
- Always follow up with a medical professional for a physical assessment and to review your written asthma action plan.
A Franciscan Physician Network physician can help with your asthma concerns.