Asthma attack: Causes, symptoms and how to respond

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Asthma attack: Causes, symptoms and how to respond
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Asthma is a condition that affects the respiratory airways.  The airway wall muscles contract which makes breathing difficult.  In the event of an asthma attack, it is best to be able to recognise the symptoms and know how to react, especially if the sufferer so not have an inhaler to hand. 

Where does asthma come from?

Many environmental factors can cause an asthma attack such as:

  • Pollen ;
  • Domestic animals; 
  • Mites ; 
  • Cockroaches ;
  • Mold.

However an asthma attack can also be cause by :

  • Respiratory infections;
  • Sporting activities; 
  • Taking certain medications;
  • Strong smells or irritant vapors.

What are the symptoms of an asthma attack?

Some factors can set off an asthma attack such as an allergy, taking certain medications, smoking or an infection.

When a person is diagnosed with as asthma, the doctor prescribes bronco-dilating medications like Ventoline which can be used in the event of an asthma attack.  Nevertheless, you need to be able to respond correctly to an asthma attack if the person suffering does not have access to the proper medication either due to a lack of stock or a slip of the mind.

Here are the main symptoms of a “mild” asthma attack:

  • Breathing difficulties (prolonged exhalation),
  • Wheezing on exhalation,
  • Anxiety,
  • Difficulty speaking,
  • Dry cough.

Some symptoms are more prevalent during a severe asthma attack:

  • Breathing difficulties that last more than 10 minutes, 
  • Skin turning a blue colour,
  • Sweating,
  • Declining speech and shortness of breath.  
  • Exhaustion
  • Loss of consciousness.

How to react in an emergency?

In the event of a severe attack the person’s breathing can stop completely if not quickly taken into the charge of paramedics.  This is why it is important to 999 as soon as the first signs of an asthma attack appear when medical professionals are not present.

If the emergency services have not yet arrived and the person has lost consciousness and stops breath, it is essential that you carry out mouth to mouth to keep the person alive.

How do you do mouth to mouth?

Carefully roll the person’s head backwards so that their chin is slightly raised and the give two breaths by mouth to mouth.  Check their pulse around the arteries in their neck and continue if necessary until the emergency services arrive.

In the event of a mild attack, it is crucial that you keep the person calm as anxiety risks making the attack worse.

Get the person into a seated position and ask them to breath slowly and deeply.  Ask  them if they have medication on hand.  If they don’t have medication or this is the first attack.  Called the emergency services.

If it is the first attack of this type the person won’t have any medication. In this case get the person into as position that they feel the most comfortable and don’t give them any medication without a prescription.  Call the paramedics or take the person to the nearest emergency services.


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