Asthma attacks can be very frightening because they impair the sufferer’s ability to draw breath. Untreated, a severe asthma attack can even be life-threatening as an asthmatic’s bronchial tubes can tighten to the point where they cannot take in any oxygen. While the best way to treat an attack is with rescue medication, like an albuterol inhaler, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the severity of its symptoms.
People who have lived with asthma for long periods of time can tell the difference between when their condition is being aggravated, such as when they enter a smoke-filled room, as opposed to when they are in the midst of an attack. Those who have not had much experience with the illness may react to an aggravation as if It were an attack and will start to panic. If you feel an asthma attack coming on, the most important thing you can do to help yourself is to resist that urge. When we become panicked, our breathing becomes hurried and shallow and our muscles tense up. These are two reactions that will only exacerbate an attack. Just as in any other kind of emergency situation, the key to survival lies in thinking clearly.
Control Your Breathing and Your Environment
If you feel that an asthma attack is imminent, you should immediately take steps to calm yourself down and move away from anything that may make the attack worse. For example, if you’re driving and you feel an attack coming on, you should pull over, roll up your windows and turn either your heater or air-conditioning on full blast. You definitely don’t want to be on the road in the middle of an attack and sealing yourself off will keep you from inhaling allergens that may be in the area. If you’re sitting at home and you feel an attack coming on, hop in the shower. Not only will doing so allow you to breathe in air while relaxing in the steam, it will also wash off any allergens that have landed on your hair or skin. If you’re at work, head to the bathroom. Retreating to a private space, you’ll have the privacy you need to focus on slowing down the rate of your breathing. Afterward, you might want to drink a cup of hot coffee as caffeine is a natural bronchodilator.
If you’ve gotten yourself away from anything that may be triggering an attack and have had a chance to calm down, you should take whatever steps you need to treat your condition. If you have access to an inhaler, take a dose as soon as you can. If for some reason you do not have access to your rescue medication, head to the nearest emergency room. Even if you’ve managed to regain a measure of control, the only way to effectively treat an asthma attack is with medication. If you find yourself dealing with chronic asthma attacks, contact us today to set up an appointment. Dr. Shukla has been successful in reducing the number of emergency room visits patients have had to make by 15 percent and he has the skills and experience to help you, too.