What is Asthma?
Asthma is a condition that affects someone’s airways, the pipes where air travels down to reach the lungs.
When someone’s trigger causes an asthma attack, the muscles around the windpipes tighten causing airway narrowing. The airways become inflamed with swelling, sometimes producing sticky mucus or phlegm. This leads to a reduction in the amount of air able to pass through to the lungs each time a breath is taken in causing breathing difficulties.
It’s important that anyone who is known to have asthma manages their treatment well. Remember prevention is better than cure!
The common Asthma triggers include:
- Colds and Flu
- Cigarette Smoke
- Stress and Anxiety
- Cold weather
- Moulds and fungi
- Female hormones
Understanding what trigger or triggers affect someone’s asthma will help when trying to reduce the trigger contact time. For example, someone with smoke as their trigger would need to be removed from the smoke filled environment and then treated.
Always try to find out what someone’s trigger is should you be treating an asthma attack.
Recognition and treatment of asthma
Someone having an asthma attack will present as:
- Difficulty breathing and speaking, often unable to complete a sentence
- Have a wheezing sound
- Experience tightness in the chest
- Pale skin
- Using excessive muscles in the neck and chest
- Sit the person up. (Laying down is NOT a good position for breathing problems!)
- Keep them calm
- Encourage them to take their reliever inhaler (usually BLUE) using a spacer if available
Its recommended to take 1 puff every 30-60 seconds up to 10 puffs
If this doesn’t help in anyway, you are worried or the condition get worse you must call 999/112 for an ambulance
If the ambulance takes longer than 15 minutes repeat the reliever treatment above.
If the person has their own asthma plan, follow that to treat the attack. This includes maintenance and reliever therapies (MART)
All asthma suffers should carry their medication with them even when feeling well. Learn more about the different inhalers here. If the asthma is well managed attacks should not usually happen frequently.
A review with the asthma nurse is also recommended especially if asthma attacks are becoming more frequent or an increased use of the reliever inhaler (BLUE) is needed.
An asthma attack is a medical emergency, treating someone quickly could save their life or your own
Asthma UK have got a great website with lots more information about asthma. They also have asthma plans, various information leaflets, peak flow charts and recording logs plus more information all available here in their resources section.
Either download each one or request a free copy from their website www.asthma.org.uk
(Information for statistics are used from the Asthma UK website)