What Is an Asthma Attack?
31
August

By Adem Lewis / in , , /


Asthma attacks are
frightening, you know, I think inability to
breathe is one of the most frightening things you
can have happen to you. I’ve had patients describe it as feeling like they’re drowning. In an asthma attack, your
airways constrict tremendously. So you have a hard time blowing
out air that’s in your lung, and when you’re having
a hard time breathing, you tend to become anxious
and you start breathing even more rapidly, and that
actually makes it even worse, because if you’re
breathing in very rapidly, you don’t have an opportunity
to get rid of the air that’s trapped in your lungs. So people will start hyperventilating and it gets worse and worse. Basically, in an asthma attack, people are extremely short of breath, sometimes they can have chest
pain and other symptoms. And the treatment for that
really, is to get on medication, to try to open up the airways. Usually, they’ll be in an
urgent care or an emergency room at that point, we give them
medications to try to relieve the tightening of the airways. Albuterol is a very common
medication in that setting. They will also likely receive steroids in some form or fashion,
’cause steroids are very good at decreasing inflammation
that’s producing the asthma and helps open up the airways. The steroids can take some
time to work, you know, four to six hours, so the
physicians who are taking care of the patient with asthma
at that point, will do things to improve their symptoms immediately, and the Albuterol is a very good drug. Sometimes they’ll put them
on little mask devices called CPAP that helps
keep the airways open so that patients can breathe comfortably. Occasionally, people are
so anxious around these, sometimes even using a
medication to relieve anxiety can help people through an asthma attack.


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