Asthma Attack: Symptoms, Warning Signs & Action Plan

Asthma attack arises when asthma symptoms become abruptly worse and it gets difficult to breathe. During an attack, a person starts feeling tightness in the chest with inflammation of airways and producing extra mucus.

An asthma attack is when someone experiences worsening of asthma symptoms that is caused by tightening of muscles around the airways. At the time of asthma attack, the inflammation of lining of airways occurs and thicker mucus that is more than normal is produced. This makes it harder to breathe.

Here are the early warning signs, symptoms and action plan in the event of asthma attack.

Early Warning Signs

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The early warning signs of an asthma attack include:

  • Frequent or persistent coughing, especially during night
  • Panicky or feeling of anxiety
  • Trouble talking
  • Very rapid breathing
  • Blue lips of fingernails
  • Tightening of chest and neck muscle (retractions)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tired feeling or weakness while exercising
  • Severe wheezing when breathing both in and out
  • Feeling easily grouchy, upset or moody
  • Decreased lung function as measured on a peak flow meter
  • Wheezing or coughing during or after exercise
  • Pale, sweaty face

Symptoms Of An Asthma Attack

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  • Right before or at the onset of an asthma attack, you may feel any of these symptoms:
  • Coughing too much, especially at night
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Finding it hard to breathe after exercise
  • Feeling irritable
  • Lower PEF numbers, from your peak flow meter
  • Short, shallow, fast breaths
  • Squeezed feeling in the chest
  • Wheezing especially while breathing out

What To Do In The Event Of An Asthma Attack?

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During an asthma attack, it is important to stay calm and use the prescribed medications.

The quick-relief medications that are often administered via an inhaler are used for treating asthma attacks as needed. Short-acting, rapid-onset beta2-agonist and/or anticholinergic bronchodilators (relaxes airway muscles) and systemic corticosteroids (reduces airway inflammation) are often included.

Avoid panicking and try to stay calm. That is because panic prevents a person with asthma from relaxing and following instructions. It has been found that rapid breathing associated with strong emotions, like panic, can cause tightening of bronchial tubes.

If coughing or shortness of breath persist and other symptoms do not improve, seek immediate medical treatment.

After An Asthma Attack

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It is very likely that you feel exhausted and drained out after an asthma attack. For the next some days, you might have another flare. Be careful of the warning signs and take good care of yourself.

  • Follow your asthma action plan.
  • Take proper medications.
  • Make use of your peak flow meter.
  • Avoid all the factors that trigger your asthma.

What Happens When An Asthma Attack Isn’t Treated?

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If you don’t undergo an adequate medical treatment for an asthma attack, you may develop bluish coloring around your lips and an inability to speak. Cyanosis is the change of color caused due to reduced amount of oxygen in blood. Further, loss of consciousness may occur if immediate aggressive treatment is not given in an emergency room or intensive care unit.

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