Asthma Attacks: Emergency Room Tips
Asthma is a condition characterized by the inflammation and obstruction of the passages that allow air to enter and leave the lungs. These passages are known as the bronchial tubes. During an asthma attack, the muscles that surround these tubes tighten, and produce extra mucus which in turn makes it extremely difficult for one to breathe.
Asthma is a minor nuisance for some, while for others it can interfere with daily activities, thereby, become a life-threatening attack.
It’s essential to note that there is no cure for asthma because the symptoms often change over time. Therefore, it’s vital that you work together with your emergency doctor at FrontLine ER to keep track of its signs and symptoms and when necessary adjust the treatment.
What Triggers an Asthma Attack?
Exposure to an allergen, such as pollen, dust mites, or animal dander can trigger an attack. Irritants in the air, such as chemical fumes, strong odors, or smoke and upper respiratory infections especially the flu, can also contribute to an occurrence.
Knowing the Symptoms of an Asthma Emergency
Any person suffering from this condition should always be prepared for an emergency. It doesn’t matter if you’ve kept your asthma under control for years, it could still worsen without you realizing it. Knowing the signs, ways to monitor your asthma and when to seek emergency treatment can help save your life in case an attack was to occur. Some of the symptoms of an emergency attack include:
- Shortness of breath when doing normal activities or even when you’re not moving
- No improvement after using your rescue inhaler
- Peak flow readings that are less than 50%
- Anxiety exhaustion or confusion
- Bluish lips and fingernails
- The wheezing sound in the chest
An asthma attack varies depending on the causes and the duration of the inflammation on the airways. Mild episodes may last only a few minutes and can resolve naturally, or may require a quick-acting inhaler.
On the other hand, severe ones can last for hours or days, but can easily be minimized with appropriate treatment from FrontLine ER
Treatment of an Asthma Attack
It is essential to remain calm and take the right steps when you feel the symptoms setting in. Here is what you should do to help you get back to your normal self within the shortest time possible.
- Stop what you’re doing and sit down, or at least slow down to see if your symptoms subside. Try to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Doing this helps warm up the air you’re bringing into your lungs.
- Use your rescue inhaler properly. Position the device correctly and inhale the medication slowly by directing it to the airway. Your emergency doctor at FrontLine ER can help you to practice and perfect your breathing technique.
- Get away from the source of the trigger. If you think something outside is contributing to your symptoms, go indoors. If you think you have been exposed to an allergen, take a shower and wash it off your skin or hair. Blow your nose and rinse with a saline solution to wash out as much of the irritant as possible.
- Stay calm and focus on breathing, and ensure that you take your medication. Wait for the medicine to kick in to action before resuming your normal activities.
- Have a custom-tailored asthma emergency treatment plan. The plan may include how to use your emergency inhaler, taking a peak flow reading, personal and medical details, and emergency room contacts.
- Have a drink and ensure it’s at room temperature. Staying hydrated with plenty of fluids such as water and juice can help ease asthma symptoms.
When you visit an emergency room for an asthma attack that is already in progress, the emergency physicians at FrontLine ER will commence on treatment immediately to get your asthma under control. Some of these measures will include:
- Administering short-acting beta-agonists, such as albuterol. These are the same medications as those in your rescue inhaler. You will be required to use a device called a nebulizer, which converts the drug into a mist that can be inhaled deep into your lungs.
- Oral corticosteroids are taken in the form of a pill to help reduce lung inflammation and get the asthma symptoms under control. Corticosteroids can also be administered intravenously to patients who are under respiratory failure or are vomiting.
- Ipratropium (Atrovent) is sometimes used as a drug to treat a severe asthma attack, especially if albuterol is not being effective.
- If your attack is severe, your doctor may insert a breathing tube down your throat into your upper airway. This tube will help pump oxygen into your lungs to help you breathe easily.
If you are an asthma patient residing in Richmond or Dallas Texas, your doctor may want you to stay at FrontLine ER for a few hours after your asthma symptoms improve. This is to make sure you that the attack will not recur. When he or she feels your asthma symptoms are sufficiently under control, you will be free to leave the ER. You will also be provided with instructions on what to do should you have another asthma attack.