By definition, an asthma attack is an abrupt deterioration of the symptoms that characterize asthma. It is a fatal and is triggered by the constriction of muscles that surround the air pathways. The medical term for this is bronchospasm. During the attack, the lining of these pathways changes in its texture and appearance. The pathways start swelling and this is often accompanied by increased production of mucus. The end result is that a swollen inflamed airway filled with mucus gives way to all the characteristics of an asthmatic person under attack. The material posted on this page is for learning purposes only. To learn how to recognize and manage victims of respiratory emergencies, such as asthma attacks, enrol in first aid and CPR training.[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyZoOPILMgI” width=”200″ height=”200″]
What are some of the symptoms that characterize an asthma attack?
- Wheezing during inhalation and exhalation
- Running out of breath even when at rest
- Difficulty in engaging in normal day-to-day activities that one would normally perform
- Retractions in the chest area. These are constrictional forces in the chest and neck muscles
- Some patients experience a pale face and experience sweating.
- Due to the reduced oxygen supply, some patients will show blue lips (cyanosis).
- For a number of patients who are asthmatic, such attacks are accompanied by bouts of panic and anxiety.
Even with this list of symptoms that characterize an asthma attack, it is important for one to know that in many cases, an individual will go for an extended period without experiencing an attack, only to come into contact with allergens that trigger an attack. In some cases, a trigger is as simple as overindulging in an exercise, commonly referred to as asthma that is exercise-induced.
What are the different types of asthma attacks?
Asthma attacks are divided into two: mild attacks and severe attacks. With mild attacks, the airways will usually dilate a short while after treatment. Such attacks are also fairly common. Severe attacks on the hand, are less common, but will often require medical assistance with immediate effect. Even with both types of attacks, it is imperative to realize and address mild attacks so as to keep severe attacks at bay. If an asthma attack remains untreated and the individual does not get medication for the same, breathing continues to be laboured, and wheezing becomes more aggressive. At this point, it is vital to make mention that the stoppage of wheezing is not necessarily an indication of improvement.
When the airways undergo severe tightening, there will be insufficient air so that wheezing stops, what is referred to as a ‘silent chest’. This is a fatal indication and means that the patient must get immediate medical attention. To recognize the symptoms of an asthma attack early enough, an individual must look out for the changes that precede an attack as these are usually indicative of an impending emergency. These symptoms are not severe, but help prevent an attack from happening as well as from worsening especially because these symptoms can escalate within a very short time. Below are some of the symptoms that you ought to look out for:
- Frequent coughing especially when it gets cold.
- Inexplicable shortness of breath.
- Fatigue when engaging in daily activities.
- Moodiness that causes one to be easily upset.