Asthma attack also known as bronchial asthma is a condition where the individual’s airway gets inflamed and narrows down affecting breathing. The airway produces extra mucus that inhibit the flow of air in and out of the lungs. Asthma attack causes muscles around the throat to tighten a condition called bronchospasm. Some cases of asthma attack are minor while others are life-threatening.
Common Symptoms of Asthma Attack Are:
- wheezing when breathing in and out
- a continuous cough, pressure and tightness around the chest
- rapid breathing
- tightening of the chest muscles or retractions
- difficult walking
- bluish fingernails and sweating
Asthma attacks occur when the individual is exposed to triggers, shock, pollution etc. Most people have mild symptoms which last for a few hours and end soon after medication. Other cases are severe and can lead to death. Severe asthma attacks require quick medical attention. It is crucial to recognize the symptoms of an asthma attack early enough and get the appropriate treatment. If other treated immediately, the victims breathing continues to worsen becoming more labored and the wheezing louder.
During asthma episodes, the lungs tighten limiting air flow, this produces the wheezing sound. As the attack worsens, the lungs become tighter and the wheezing sound stops. The silent state (known as silent chest) is grave and you should immediately call emergency medical help (911) or rush the victim to the hospital. Most people assume that the victim is getting better when the wheezing stops which is very wrong. Without medication, the victim will stop speaking and acquire a bluish tint on the lips (cyanosis). As body organs suffer oxygen shortage, the victim might collapse, fall unconscious and eventually die.
It is important to recognize early signs of asthma and seek treatment before the victim condition gets worse. Before an attack the person will experience mild symptoms which are least likely to interrupt their daily activities. The early signs of an asthma attack include:
- Frequent coughs which occur mostly at night
- Shortness of breath
- Lower peak flow meter readings
- Tiring easily especially after exercising
- General body weakness
- Trouble sleeping which occur from night-time asthma
- Signs of allergies or cold which include running nose, headache sore throat, nose congestion and sore throat.
First Aid for the Patitents Having the Asthma Attack
When you encounter a victim having asthma attack, treat it as an emergency and call medical services by dialing 911. Important to note that the victims condition can worsen very fast.
- First let the victim sit in a relaxed position
- Loosen any tight clothing
- If the victim has an inhaler, let them use it immediately
- If no inhaler available, use one from a first aid kit
- Do not use another person’s inhaler
How to Use an Inhaler With a Spacer?
- Use inhaler with a spacer if available
- Take off the inhaler cap and shake it properly
- Place the inhaler in the spacer
- Instruct the victim to breath out completely.
- Have the victim place their mouth tightly around the spacer mouthpiece.
- Deliver a puff by pressing the inhaler once
- The victim should then breath in slowly through their mouth and hold in breath for ten seconds.
- Allow one minute between puffs
- Give the victim four puffs
How to use Inhaler without spacer
- Loose the cap and shake the inhaler
- Have the victim breath out completely
- Place the inhaler mouthpiece around the victims mouth
- Let the person breath in slowly for about five to ten seconds as you press the inhaler once, then hold their breath for ten seconds.
- Give the victim four puffs each one minute apart.
- Allow the victims four minutes and if the victim still has trouble breathing after the four puffs, give them another four. If no improvement in the victims breathing after the next set of puffs, give up to eight puffs every 20 minutes to a maximum of four hours until emergency medical services arrive.
- Monitor the victim until emergency response teams arrives. Drowsiness and loss of the wheezing could be a sign of worsening of the victims condition.
The Common Causes of Asthma
The triggers for asthma differ from one person to the next. Whenever airway of an asthmatic person gets into contact with an allergen, it gets inflamed and fill up with mucus. An asthma attack is commonly triggered by:
Allergies- allergies are most known triggers for asthma. Most people with asthma are allergic to certain substances such as cockroach droppings, dust mites, animal dander, mold and weed pollen. Persons with allergies should see an allergenist and seek treatment/medical advice.
Foods Allergies- Food allergies can trigger an asthmatic reaction known as anaphylaxis. The condition is critical and can lead to death. A victim of anaphylaxis should be given an epinephrine shot which should improve the victims condition within minutes. If it doesn’t work within an hour, the victim should be given another shot. Anaphylaxis is never treated with antihistamines. The first symptoms include a runny nose and skin rash. The other symptoms appear after 30 minutes and they include difficult breathing, wheezing and coughing, dizziness, itchy skin, rapid heartbeat, itchy tongue, diarrhea, vomiting and swollen/itchy throat among others.
Exercise- A larger population of people with asthma (eight out of ten) will experience an attack after a heavy work out. In most cases the attack will occur within the first ten minutes of workout. It might also occur four to six hours after the work out session. Persons with workout asthma should consult their doctor on the appropriate physical activities.
Weather- Changes in weather such as changes in temperature and humidity can trigger asthma in people with history of asthma attacks.
Medications- Certain medications are likely to trigger asthma in asthmatic people. It is crucial to find out the type of medication that hat triggers asthma and avoid them. Some of these medicines are aspirin and some painkillers such as ibrufen and naprofen. Medicine triggered allergic reactions are fatal and person who react with these medicines should avoid them completely. Other medications known to trigger asthma attack are ACE inhibitors which treat high blood pressure and heart diseases.
Sinusitis- Sinusitis and some respiratory infections can trigger an asthma attack. Sinusitis causes inflammation of the sinus membranes causing them to produce more mucus. For persons with asthma, sinusitis is likely to lead to the inflammation of the airway causing asthmatic attack. Cold, flu and bronchitis are likely to lead to an asthma attack especially in small children under the age of ten.
Heartburn- Heartburn triggered asthma is also known as gastro esophageal reflux disease, or GERD. It is very common with people with asthma affecting 89% of the asthmatic population. The attack occurs when lying down especially at night. The acid reflux causes the acid to go back to the esophagus. The acid triggers an allergic reaction once it reaches the airways causing irritation and inflammation.
Smoking- Smoking is a significant cause for asthma. People who smoke are at increased risk for asthma. Expectant mothers who smoke increase the risk of having an asthmatic child or a child with lung problems.
Food additives- Food additives likely to trigger asthma include food processing ingredients such as sodium sulfites, potassium metabisulfite, sodium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite and potassium bisulfite.
Why First Aid Training Is Important?
First aid training is one of the most crucial health certifications that everyone should have in these days. The popularity of the internet has prompted most institutions to offer online first aid courses.
Advantages of Taking up First Aid Training:
- The skills and knowledge acquired in first aid training provides the individual with the confidence to save victims in critical conditions. Most by standers are lost on what to do as they lack the know how.
- First aid training provides hands-on experience which helps the rescuer have a better understanding of the different procedures.
- Saving procedures for victims of different emergencies. Life-threatening emergencies occur are unpredictable. Most emergencies you are likely to come across are covered in first aid classes.
- First aid training also helps in understanding the causes of different health emergencies and their preventive measures. With these skills we can reduce the occurrence of health emergencies both at home and place of work.
- First aid training provides skills that when applied can save lives, hasten recovery, and prevent suffering. Some health emergencies such as asthma attacks could be life-threatening if the victim doesn’t receive the necessary medical attention. With first aid, some injuries and illnesses don’t require further treatment.
- First aid training provides skills on how to use the resources at hand to save lives. Emergency response teams could take time to arrive at the scene leading to loss of life. Through first aid training, the individual can differentiate different health emergencies and provide the necessary assistance. Inaccurate diagnosis can lead to the wrong first aid procedures.
Asthma attack and it’s first aid is covered under first aid training classes. Asthma can be a critical condition which without treatment can lead to the death of the victim. First aid training for Asthma is available in person and through online platforms which are quite convenient. The training is available to anyone interested regardless of their educational levels and age. Everyone should be trained with life-saving skills to administer Asthma attack, as you never know whose life you will save.
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