What happens during an asthma attack?
80% of people admitted to hospital for an asthma attack have had worsening symptoms over the previous two days.
Your chest feels tight, you will hear yourself wheeze; sleeping, eating and even talking become difficult as you need to breath more quickly. The effect of Ventolin* will not last long. These symptoms all worsen as your lungs continue to swell and tighten.
Most asthmatics will never have an acute asthma attack like this. But around 80,000 people a year do need admission to hospital due to severe asthma.
“I’m struggling to breathe”- What should I do?
- Sit down or stand still.
- Try and relax, and try to take some slow breaths in through your nose and out of your mouth.
- Take your Ventolin* 10 puffs over the next 10-15 minutes- do this by taking two puffs every 2 minutes. Take each puff slowly and deeply.
- Use your Aerochamber or other Spacer if you have one.
- Breathing improves- telephone your GP or the Out of Hours service as you will still often be given a course of Steroid tablets, OR
- Breathing does not improve - contact your GP urgently or go to Accident and Emergency as you need further treatment to help your breathing. You can repeat Step 3 while waiting for help.
How do I stop my asthma getting this bad?
If you notice that you need your Ventolin more frequently, ask yourself “Why?”
Have you stopped or forgotten your preventer inhaler? (Lots of people do this). Have you got a new pet or are staying in a house with pets? Have you just done some DIY and are in a dusty environment?
- Restart your preventer inhaler.
- Take it through an Aerochamber or other spacer if you have one.
- Take your reliever every 4- 6 hours until you feel well.
- Remove yourself from any obvious trigger.
- Access medical advice.
*Ventolin is the most common reliever inhaler. You may also used Bricanyl, terbutaline or salbutamol. A small number of people have been taught a new approach called SMART. If you are one of these people then follow your SMART advice.