An asthma attack, also known as bronchial Asthma, is a condition where the individual's airway gets inflamed and narrows down, affecting breathing. As a result, the airway produces extra mucus that inhibits airflow in and out of the lungs. It is the leading chronic disease in children. In addition, an asthma attack causes muscles around the throat to tighten; a condition called bronchospasm. Some cases of an asthma attacks are minor, while others are life-threatening.
What are the Common Asthma Symptoms?
- wheezing when breathing in and out
- a continuous cough, pressure, and tightness around the chest
- rapid breathing
- chest tightness
- difficult walking
- bluish fingernails and sweating
Asthma attacks occur when the individual is exposed to asthma triggers, shock, pollution, etc. Most people have mild symptoms which last for a few hours and end soon after medication. Other cases are severe and can lead to death. Severe asthma attacks require quick medical attention. It is crucial to recognize the symptoms of an asthma attack early enough and get the appropriate treatment plan. If others are treated immediately, the victim's breathing worsens, becoming more labored and the wheezing louder.
What Happens to Lung Function during Asthma Attack?
During asthma episodes, the lungs tighten, limiting airflow, and producing a wheezing sound. As the attack worsens, the lungs become tighter, and the wheezing sound stops. The silent state (known as the silent chest) is grave, and you should immediately call emergency medical help (911) or rush the victim to the hospital. Most people assume that the victim gets better when the wheezing stops, which is very wrong. Without medication, the victim will stop speaking and acquire a bluish tint on the lips (cyanosis). As body organs suffer oxygen shortage, the victim might collapse, fall unconscious and eventually die.
It is essential to recognize warning signs of Asthma and seek emergency care before the worsening of asthma symptoms. Before an attack, the person will experience mild symptoms which are least likely to interrupt their daily activities. The early symptoms of an asthma attack include:
- Frequent coughs, which occur primarily at night
- Shortness of breath
- Lower peak flow meter readings
- Tiring easily, especially after exercising
- General body weakness
- Trouble sleeping which occurs from night-time asthma
- Signs of allergies or colds include runny nose, headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, and sore throat.
First Aid for the Patients Having the Asthma Attack
Without immediate first aid treatment, the patient's breathing may become more labored, and wheezing may get louder. Treatment for an acute asthma attack varies but often involves asthma medicines, including quick-relief albuterol inhalers. Inhalation is the best way to take most asthma medicines.
When you encounter a victim having an asthma emergency, call medical services by dialing 911. Important to note that the victim's condition can worsen very fast.
- First, let the victim sit in a relaxed position
- Loosen any tight clothing
- If the victim has an inhaler, let them use it immediately
- If no inhaler is available, use one from a first-aid kit
- Do not use another person's inhaler
How to Use an Inhaler With a Spacer?
- Use an inhaler with a spacer if available
- Take off the inhaler cap and shake it properly
- Place the inhaler in the spacer
- Instruct the victim to breathe out completely.
- Have the victim place their mouth tightly around the spacer mouthpiece.
- Deliver a puff by pressing the inhaler once
- The victim should then breathe in slowly through their mouth and hold a deep breath for ten seconds.
- Allow one minute between puffs
- Give the victim four puffs
How to use an inhaler without a spacer?
- Loose the cap and shake the inhaler
- Have the victim breath out completely
- Place the inhaler mouthpiece around the victim's mouth.
- Let the person breathe slowly for about five to ten seconds as you press the inhaler once, then hold deep breaths for ten seconds.
- Give the victim four puffs, each one minute apart.
- Allow the victims four minutes, and if the victim still has trouble breathing after the four puffs, give them another four. If there is no improvement in the victims breathing after the next set of breaths, give up to eight puffs every 20 minutes to a maximum of four hours until emergency medical services arrive.
- Monitor the victim until emergency response teams arrive. Drowsiness and loss of wheezing could be a sign of worsening the victim's condition.
If you are at risk, you should have an asthma action plan that include information about your asthma medicines and will help you recognize when your symptoms are getting worse and what steps to take.
For children with asthma, it is essential to reduce their exposure to environmental triggers and teach them how to recognize asthma symptoms.
The Common Causes of Asthma
The common triggers for Asthma differ from one person to the next. Whenever the airway of an asthmatic person gets into contact with an allergen, it gets inflamed and fills up with mucus. An asthma attack is commonly triggered by the following:
Allergies are the most known triggers for Asthma. Most Asthma people are allergic to substances such as cockroach droppings, dust mites, animal dander, mold, and weed pollen. Persons with allergies should see an allergist and seek treatment/medical advice.
Food allergies can trigger an asthmatic reaction known as anaphylaxis. The condition is critical and can lead to death. A victim of anaphylaxis should be given an epinephrine shot which should improve the victim's condition within minutes. The victim should be given another try if it doesn't work within an hour.
Anaphylaxis is never treated with antihistamines. The first asthma symptoms include a runny nose and skin rash. The other symptoms appear after 30 minutes, including difficulty breathing, wheezing and coughing, dizziness, itchy skin, rapid heartbeat, itchy tongue, diarrhea, vomiting, and swollen/itchy throat, among others.
A larger population of people with Asthma (eight out of ten) will experience an attack after a heavy workout. In most cases, the attack will occur within the first ten minutes of the exercise. However, it might also happen four to six hours after the workout session. Persons with workout asthma should consult their doctor on the appropriate physical activities.
Changes in the weather, such as temperature and humidity, can trigger Asthma in people with a history of asthma attacks.
Certain medications are likely to trigger Asthma in asthmatic people. Therefore, it is crucial to determine the type of medication that triggers Asthma and avoid them. Some of these medicines are aspirin and painkillers such as ibrufen and naprofen. Medicine-triggered allergic reactions are fatal, and the person who reacts with these medicines should avoid them altogether. Other medications known to trigger an asthma attack are ACE inhibitors which treat high blood pressure and heart diseases.
Sinusitis and some respiratory infections can trigger an asthma attack. Sinusitis causes inflammation of the sinus membranes causing them to produce more mucus. For persons with Asthma, sinusitis is likely to lead to the inflammation of the airway, causing an asthmatic attack. In addition, colds, flu, and bronchitis likely lead to an asthma attack, especially in small children under ten.
Heartburn triggered Asthma is also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. It is widespread among people with Asthma affecting 89% of the asthmatic population. The attack occurs when lying down, especially at night. The acid reflux causes the acid to go back to the esophagus. The acid triggers an allergic reaction once it reaches the airways causing irritation and inflammation.
Smoking is a significant cause of Asthma. People who smoke are at increased risk for Asthma. For example, expectant mothers who smoke increase the risk of having an asthmatic child or a child with lung problems.
Food additives likely to trigger Asthma include food processing ingredients such as sodium sulfites, potassium metabisulfite, sodium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, and potassium bisulfite.
Why Is First Aid Training Important?
First aid training is one of the most crucial health certifications everyone should have. In addition, the popularity of the internet has prompted most institutions to offer online first aid courses.
Advantages of Taking up First Aid Training
- The skills and knowledge acquired in first aid training provide the individual with the confidence to save victims in critical conditions. But, unfortunately, most bystanders are lost on what to do as they lack the know-how.
- First aid training provides a hands-on experience that helps the rescuer better understand the different procedures.
- Saving procedures for victims of different emergencies. Life-threatening emergencies that occur are unpredictable. Most emergencies you are likely to come across are covered in first aid classes.
- First aid training also helps understand the causes of different health emergencies and their preventive measures. With these skills, we can reduce the occurrence of health emergencies both at home and place of work.
- First aid training provides skills that, when applied, can save lives, hasten recovery, and prevent suffering. Some health emergencies, such as asthma attacks, could be life-threatening if the victim doesn't receive the necessary medical attention. With first aid, some injuries and illnesses don't require further treatment.
- First aid training provides skills to use the resources to save lives. Emergency response teams could take time to arrive at the scene leading to loss of life. The individual can differentiate between different health emergencies and assist through first aid training. Inaccurate diagnosis can lead to the wrong first aid procedures.
Asthma attacks and first aid are covered under first aid training classes. Asthma can be a critical condition that, without treatment, can lead to the victim's death. First aid training for Asthma is available in person and through online platforms, which are convenient. The training is open to anyone, regardless of educational level and age. Everyone should be trained with life-saving skills to administer Asthma attacks, as you never know whose life you will save.
It's important for individuals to be able to recognize and respond to an asthma attack promptly. Free online CPR certification courses can equip individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to respond effectively in emergency situations. Additionally, BLS certification online free courses may cover advanced techniques and protocols for emergency care in situations where asthma attacks become severe. However, it's important to note that free online courses may not always include a certificate of completion or be recognized by employers or regulatory bodies.