Asthma is a disease in which the airways tighten, swell and produce thick mucus. This makes breathing difficult, thus triggering coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. The inside walls of the airways, called bronchial tubes, swell or get inflamed. This inflammation makes the airways very sensitive to irritation and increases their vulnerability to an allergic reaction.
Asthma symptoms usually show through episodes of periodic tightness in the chest, breathlessness, wheezing, and coughing. The inflammatory events in the respiratory system might lead to severe symptoms, known as an asthma attack.
Asthma is believed to be mostly hereditary, with genetics being a key factor since it often runs in families. However, environmental factors, like air pollution, or exposure to second-hand smoke, can play a role too. Although there is no cure for asthma, you can manage the condition by using asthma inhalers once it is diagnosed and the treatment plan is in place.
An asthma attack is an unexpected deterioration of symptoms caused by the tightening of your airway muscles. During the attack, the inside layer of the airways swells or gets inflamed, and a thick layer of mucus is produced. In severe asthma attacks, the swelling of the airways might completely prevent oxygen from reaching the lungs.
At the beginning of an asthma attack, the airways may allow sufficient air into the lungs, but fail to let carbon dioxide to be expelled from the lungs at the required rate. Therefore, a prolonged asthma attack may lead to an accumulation of carbon dioxide in the lungs.
People showing symptoms of an asthma attack are strongly advised to seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
Healthcare professionals will be able to recommend treatments, like asthma inhalers, and will also advise on management techniques to help prevent the symptoms from flaring up. You should also work to identify the possible triggers of your symptoms and think of ways to avoid them. The doctor will recommend which asthma inhaler (see this NHS infographic for details on the many types available) you should use and how often to reduce the rate of recurrence of asthma attacks. Effective asthma control helps to minimize the impact of asthma on everyday living.
Signs of an Asthma Attack
Having a persistent cough, especially one that wakes you up at night now and again.
A rasping sound when you breathe which you typically occurs more often when you exhale. It might begin as a low-sounding whistling and then get louder.
Having shortness of breath and gasping for air. Having difficulty taking full breaths may mean your breathing becomes more rapid, and shallow, than usual.
Feeling as if you have a heavy weight on your chest, making it difficult to take a full breath. Sometimes accompanied by chest pains.
Blue or Grey Lips And Fingernails:
The lips and the fingernails begin to turn blue or greyish, due to a lack of oxygen.
Other Warning Signs
Other warning signs of an asthma attack include:
– Being irritable or short-tempered
– Feeling uneasy or nervous
– Panic and anxietyDanger signs of a worsening asthma attack include:
These danger signs require emergency medical care.
– Having trouble talking since it is so difficult to breathe.
– Tight neck and tight chest muscles
– Less responsive or confused than usual