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Posted on: December 17, 2016

Seeing a person suffering an asthma attack is a frightening experience for both the person having the attack and any onlookers. You shouldn’t feel helpless watching a friend or loved one struggle to breathe. The following are valuable tips keep in mind to help the someone cope better and have a positive outcome after the asthma attack.

Know the Symptoms of an Asthma Attack

A problem breathing is the first observable sign that your friend or loved one is having an asthma attack or asthma exacerbation. The difficulty comes from inflamed airways. The inflammation causes the muscles surrounding the airways to tighten. Features to look for that are tip-offs to an asthma attack:

  1. Coughing spells
  2. Chest tightening
  3. Wheezing
  4. Inability to exhale and move air out of the lungs

It’s important to know the signs that indicate this attack is a serious one because some attacks do require additional help such as a visit to the local emergency room. These include bluish tinge to the lips, skin that is puckered between the victim’s ribs and neck, and ongoing breathing difficulty following the use of a rescue inhaler. If any of these occur, do the following:

Stay Calm : The last thing an asthma sufferer needs during an asthma attack/exacerbation is having someone with them who becomes panicky. By staying calm you are a calming influence on the victim. Let them know you are there to help them. Speak in a measured tone, and help the person sit in a chair or on the floor if no chair is handy, as sitting up helps your friend or relative keep their airways as unobstructed as feasible.

Remove the Trigger : If you know what triggers asthma attacks in the person you are with, find it and get away from it. One example is if second-hand smoke is an issue and you are near a smoker. Move the asthma victim away from the smoker. Triggers are plentiful and include:

  • Pollen
  • Smoke
  • Animal dander
  • Stress
  • Cold or windy weather

If you don’t know what trigger’s your friend or loved one’s asthma, ask them to tell you so you are prepared to help during a potential attack by removing irritants and implementing an emergency plan.

It is common for an asthma sufferer to have an “emergency plan” that usually includes “rescue” inhalers that contain a drug called albuterol, bronchodilators, or other anti-inflammatory medicines. Help them get to their rescue medications and then ask if there is a plan for symptoms that get worse. If your relative or friend starts complaining of chest tightness you should call an ambulance and try to keep them calm while waiting for its arrival.

Asthma attacks don’t stop on their own accord, they need to be treated. If there is no rescue plan or there is no rescue medication available take the victim to an urgent care center or a hospital emergency room.

Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center helps patients breathe, live and ultimately thrive by effectively treating allergy and asthma challenges. Our practice has conveniently has multiple locations in Charlotte and the surrounding area. Conveniently contact us through our online contact form to schedule an appointment at an office near you.