Asthma attack on alpine tour:  Recognize symptoms & perform first aid – Tutorial (40/43) | LAB ROCK
31
August

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , /


The advantage of mountaineering for an asthmatic is the high mountain climate.
Here there are considerably fewer pollutants in the air such as emissions or pollen so asthma attacks
are much less often But attacks are not unknown even in the mountains. They usually occur
as a result of allergic reactions to insect bites, or from exhaustion and stress During an asthma attack, the airways constrict and
mucous membranes often become inflamed and produce more mucus There is one particular form of asthma – stress-induced asthma – that
does not normally pose a risk. A sufferer will know this illness very well airways get narrower as a result of physical exertion. The
sufferer will know about this and will usually have an inhaler with them – probably something like this – which they will take out and inhale
one or two puffs. If you are with them as a partner, this shouldn’t worry you An asthma attack is recognizable by the sufferer’s
characteristic wheezing, shortage of breath and often their anxiety or agitation They have to cough frequently to try to get rid of the thick mucus that is produced.
Their lips will turn blue, the skin also often develops a blueish ting, and they start to shiver Eventually, if medication arrives too late,
they can become disorientated or even lose consciousness At this point the situation
becomes life threatening Sufferers don’t necessarily have all these symptoms at the same
time; in general, one symptom follows another, the final one being unconsciousness If you come across a person who is having difficulty breathing,
ask them if they are familiar with the problem, if it occurs often, and how you can help If they are familiar with the problem,
they will usually have their medication with them You can then help by passing or holding the asthma
inhaler, should the sufferer no longer be able to hold it themself Once the asthma inhaler has been taken, the person
will soon start to relax. It usually takes just one or two puffs once they have calmed down, talk with them reassuringly and ask them how they feel. The asthma sufferer will know their illness better than anyone and is now best placed to decide whether or not to continue or end the tour, whether they
can get down the mountain unaided or is in need of professional help And please be aware that the asthma inhaler is
medication, so as a first responder you must not administer it yourself you may only help the sufferer take the medication under their guidance.
Otherwise, make sure the person is warm, provide them with support and reassurance If the person has forgotten their medication or it is
the first time it has happened, make an emergency call immediately In this case, rapid professional
assistance is really important Try breathing in and out together with the sufferer. To slow
breathing down, you could also try breathing through pursed lips And if you are calm yourself and talk calmly
to the person, this will also have a calming effect on them If the asthma victim loses consciousness, which can happen, you must check
breathing. If the person is breathing, place them immediately in the stable recovery position If you cannot detect breathing, begin
resuscitation and continue until the rescue team arrives If you are going on a tour as part of a group, it is a
good idea to let others know that you are an asthmatic so that they are best placed to help in case
of emergency and know where to find your medication


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