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Asthma Attack: Causes, Symptoms & Prevention

asthma attack

The signs of an asthma attack become easy to identify when someone has been dealing with this condition for years. However, asthma attack symptoms can be terrifying for kids or adults who are experiencing this problem for the first time.

It is important for parents to be able to identify probable asthma symptoms in kids so that they will know how to help their child respond appropriately. Moreover, adult sufferers should be able to identify the factors that may trigger an asthma attack so that they can avoid flare-ups when possible. Learning more about asthma symptoms in adults and kids helps to identify and treat the problem.

What Is an Asthma Attack?

An asthma attack occurs when the muscles of the airway suddenly tighten. Swelling and inflammation within the airways similarly make it difficult to draw breath. Mucus production goes into overdrive, and most people begin to cough and wheeze. While some attacks are not particularly serious and can be treated at home, some may be life-threatening and necessitate a visit to the emergency room.

While a mild attack may only affect the individual for a few minutes, more severe attacks may last for hours or even days.

Most people who have been dealing with this condition for a considerable amount of time already have a doctor-approved strategy for coping with the early signs of an asthma attack. When this strategy is followed, it may be possible to lessen the severity and even frequency of the attacks.

What Causes an Asthma Attack?

Asthma symptoms in kids and adults may be triggered by any number of allergens. According to WebMD, certain pollens from weeds, trees, and grasses can bring about an attack. Other people may find that animal dander, dust mites or cockroaches stimulate an attack.

A strong smell can generate an attack in some people. In fact, many people with asthma cannot tolerate being around others who wear aftershave or perfume. Smoke and other common pollutants in the air may cause an asthma attack in other people while some will be affected by weather conditions. Vigorous exercise and emotional upsets similarly are known to be asthma attack triggers.

It is unusual to find individuals whose asthma symptoms will be triggered by all of these factors. Instead, it is more common for each person to be affected by one or only a few of the possible triggers. With a little work and the help of a knowledgeable doctor, it is possible to identify these triggers and find ways to avoid them.

What Are Some Asthma Attack Symptoms?

Asthma signs and symptoms include a tight, painful feeling in the chest and shortness of breath. Some people experience coughing and wheezing almost immediately. Asthma symptoms in adults and children may include rapid breathing and tightening of the muscles in the chest and neck regions. Many people will feel a sense of panic or anxiety as they begin to feel sweaty and look pale. It’s not unusual to experience difficulty talking, and some people will hear a rattling sound coming from their chest. Blue lips and fingernails also indicate that the sufferer is not taking in enough oxygen.

What To Do During an Asthma Attack

The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends that staying calm at the onset of the signs of an asthma attack is critical to making an appropriate response. Above all, it is vital to follow all instructions given by health care professionals in the midst of an attack.

Ideally, people who know that they have asthma will recognize the early warning signs of an attack. This enables them to respond quickly before the symptoms get out of hand. Typical home treatment includes the use of an inhaler that is loaded with a quick-relief medication like a systemic corticosteroid to reduce inflammation in the airways or anticholinergic bronchodilators, which enable the muscles along the airways to relax.

Most mild asthma attacks are easily controlled with these home treatments. However, if breathing continues to be difficult or if wheezing and coughing become worse, then medical treatment likely is necessary. Calling 911 may be imperative in these cases. Generally, it is not recommended for people in the midst of an asthma attack to attempt to transport themselves to the hospital.

It’s also important to understand that asthma triggers and symptoms can change with time. This makes it critical to attend regular doctor appointments to assess the condition. A different inhaled medication may be prescribed or additional lifestyle changes may be recommended.

How to Prevent an Asthma Attack

The Mayo Clinic advises children and adults with asthma to try various approaches to prevent asthma attacks. Staying current on all vaccinations, including flu and pneumonia shots, can stop illnesses that could trigger an attack. Moreover, it is sensible for asthma sufferers to be mindful of their breathing at all times. This makes it easier to identify asthma signs and symptoms like wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath, all of which are frequently among the first indications of an attack.

Identifying the triggers that bring on attacks is another critical step to avoid potential complications. This is not always an easy process, and it may be necessary to work closely with a doctor to learn which triggers are most likely to set off a flare up. Some people may have only a single trigger while others may have half a dozen. Identifying them makes it easier to avoid these triggers or to mitigate exposure.

When an asthma attack seems imminent, it is crucial to respond as rapidly as possible. Usually, this means simply following the home treatment plan that a doctor has outlined. The earlier an attack is treated, the less likely it is to become severe. This may eliminate the need for emergency room visits.

Many people suffer from asthma throughout their lives. Knowing asthma symptoms in kids and adults can mean experiencing fewer attacks and enjoying better overall health.