Do Not Take Lightly The Perils of War, or of an Asthma Attack

Do Not Take Lightly The Perils of War, or of an Asthma Attack

Posted on August 15, 2012 by Barbara Cybart in Introductory Topics

An asthma attack is outbreak of asthma symptoms such as severe wheezing, an irrepressible cough, rapid breathing, chest pain, tightness in the chest or neck, difficulty speaking, feelings of anxiety or panic, blue lips or fingernails and a worsening of symptoms despite medication use.

These symptoms are caused by the contraction of muscles around airways (bronchospasms), the inflammation of airway linings and the production of large quantities of thick mucus.

At the beginning of an asthma attack without proper treatment, the bronchospasms, inflammation and mucus production cause breathing to become more labored and wheezing to grow louder. If treatment is further postponed, the lungs will tighten to the point where there will not be sufficient air movement to produce wheezing. This event is sometimes called the “silent chest,” and is an indicator that immediate medical care is necessary. However, the “silent chest” is often interpreted as a sign of that the asthma attack is over and as such, prompt emergency care is not sought for. If medical attention is not received then eventually the ability to speak is lost and a bluish color develops around the lips.  This bluish coloring is called, cyanosis and is indicative of significant oxygen loss. At this point, without immediate treatment, the asthma attack can result in loss of consciousness and death.

Although severe asthma attacks, such as the one outlined above, occur much less frequently than mild asthma attacks, they do last longer and require an immediate medical intervention.  Even, mild asthma attacks require treatment in order to re-open airways. Therefore, it is important to be able to recognize the early warning signs of an impending asthma attack.

Before or even during the onset of an asthma attack there are certain changes which if identified in time can help you stop an asthma attack or prevent one from worsening. These changes are early warning signs and include: frequent coughing (especially at night), reduced peak flow meter readings, shortness of breath, feeling tired or weak during exercise, feeling tired and signs of a cold or allergy. Once identified, immediate medical action is required as the severity of an asthma attack can escalate quickly.

In order to be prepared for these situations, contact your primary health care provider to develop an asthma action plan. When asthma is properly managed, it should not impact any of your daily activities and you should be symptom free. The asthma action plan is a tool which will help you to react properly in the case of an asthma attack and avoid the grave consequences of improperly treated asthma symptoms.