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October 11, 2017 | Pulmonology
Asthma is a condition that causes the airways to narrow, swell and produce extra mucus, leading to difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. An asthma attack is the sudden worsening of these symptoms, causing the muscles around the airways to tighten and constrict air flow.
Symptoms of an Asthma Attack
As the muscles around the airways tighten during an asthma attack, the airway linings become inflamed and thicker mucus is produced. This can create a variety of symptoms:
If you have any of these symptoms, call 911. Some people may go for long periods without an asthma attack or any symptoms, but may have periodic interruptions due to asthma triggers or exercise-induced asthma. When asthma attacks do take place, mild attacks are more common and the airways will open up after a few minutes or hours. Severe attacks are less common but last longer and require immediate medical attention.
Recognizing Early Signs of an Asthma Attack
Just before or at the very beginning of an asthma attack, a few early changes may occur that can signal the worsening of asthma. Learning to recognize these can help you stop an asthma attack or prevent it from worsening. These signs include:
Treating these symptoms immediately when they’re recognized is vital, as an asthma attack can quickly worsen.
What to Do
If you or a loved one is experiencing an asthma attack after you’ve followed your asthma action plan, follow “red zone” or emergency instructions: contact your doctor or call 911 right away. Attacks that don’t respond to initial treatment require immediate medical attention.
Untreated Asthma Attacks
Untreated asthma attacks can lead to significant complications:
If you or a loved one is suffering from a serious asthma attack, seek immediate medical attention. For more information on recognizing and preventing asthma attacks, speak to your doctor.
Our physicians are specialized in a variety of respiratory illnesses and work with your primary care physician to customize your treatment plan. Our specialists understand the connection between the lungs and other areas of medicine including cardiology and endocrinology.
“Asthma Attack.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/asthma/guide/asthma-attack#1
“Asthma attack.” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma-attack/home/ovc-20257806
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.