How To Prevent An Asthma Attack
Preventing an asthma attack is easier to do if you know what triggers your asthma.
Avoidance of the triggers can help prevent an asthma attack in many cases, says David Stempel, MD, Senior VP of Clinical and Medical Affairs at Propeller Health. Asthma attacks can be further mitigated by taking preventative medications such as inhaled corticosteroids and in some cases using a short-acting bronchodilator, like albuterol, 15 minutes prior to exposure to a trigger like exercise.
Why Is Stress An Asthma Trigger
Stress makes you more likely to react to your usual asthma triggers like pets, pollen or colds and flu.
It can trigger symptoms indirectly too. You may get angry more easily when youre under stress, and anger is an emotional asthma trigger.
And if your stress levels stay high for a long time, you may notice you react to asthma triggers more often, and with worse symptoms.
Too much stress can sometimes lead to feelings of anxiety or panic attacks. In a panic attack, stress hormones are released to prepare us to either run away from danger or fight it .
We react with symptoms such as a faster heart rate, tense muscles and breathing that is shallow and fast .
This change to our breathing pattern can put us at a higher risk of all our usual asthma symptoms, such as tight chest and coughing.
Ways To Manage Stress
Stress can manifest in virtually any situation, especially in the modern world where everything is fast-paced. Fortunately, there are ways you can manage this stress. Heres how:
- Practice low-impact exercises
- Avoid alcohol
Becoming more aware of situations that tend to trigger your anxiety can also help you prepare for potential stress. As long as you are taking the steps to better understand the kinds of events and emotions that trigger your asthma and anxiety, you are on your way to better controlling your reactions.
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How Do You Know If You Are Having An Asthma Attack
An asthma attack happens when the body is exposed to a triggerlike pollen or smokethat causes the airways to become inflamed and swollen.
Asthma attacks are uncomfortable to experience and can be frightening, especially for children. If you or someone you know is having any of the following symptoms, they may be having an asthma attack:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness or pain
- Coughing or wheezing
An asthma attack may go away after a few minutes with proper treatment, but symptoms can last longer and become life-threatening if untreated. Seek medical attention immediately if you or someone you know is having a severe asthma attack with one or more of the following symptoms:
- A feeling of panic about the asthma attack
- Pale and sweaty face
- Lips or fingernails that are turning blue
- No improvement in symptoms after using an inhaler
How Can I Cut The Risk Of Stress Affecting My Asthma
Its impossible to cut out all stress from our lives. But you can cut the risk of it making your asthma worse.
Here are three top tips to help your asthma when stress is a trigger:
Look Beyond The Obvious
There are some well-known and obvious triggers you should avoid when you have asthma cold air, dust mites, pollen, tobacco smoke, mold, and pet dander among them. But what about your favorite candle, thunderstorms, aspirin, or even traffic? Several odd or unusual things can trigger an asthma attack. If you have asthma, its important to identify your own particular triggers so you can try to avoid or at least be better prepared for a potential attack.
What Can I Do To Manage My Stress
There are a number of lifestyle changes and active strategies that you can implement as part of a stress management program, such as:
- Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Identifying your stressors and trying to reduce them
- Practicing relaxation techniques
Like many other things in life, if you can measure or identify something you can take action. If you know the situations or stressors that worsen your asthma, you can develop a plan to either avoid the situation or learn some management techniques. If you are not able to do this on your own then you can talk with your healthcare provider about Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy. You might also consider a shallow breathing technique like the Buteyko breathing exercises. These techniques have been associated with decreased asthma symptoms, decreased use of rescue inhalers, lowering doses of regular daily asthma medication, and improved quality of life.
Exercise is also a great activity to help prevent or manage anxiety. Exercise helps you improve psychological well-being, maintain a healthy weight, and decreases your risk of heart disease. Talk with your healthcare provider about an exercise regimen that is both good for your asthma and good for your overall health.
Stress does not have to be a big deal for your asthma if you can identify it and make appropriate changes.
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Can You Predict A Flare
You can predict some flare-ups, but it might take a bit of detective work.
Some flare-ups happen suddenly, after a person is exposed to a trigger like being around someone who is smoking. Flare-ups also happen when problems in the airways build up over time. That can happen when a persons asthma is not well controlled.
Flare-ups need to be treated at their earliest stages. So its important to know early warning signs .
Clues that a flare-up might happen are different for everyone. They might even be different with each asthma flare-up.
Early warning signs include:
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What Is An Asthma Attack
Asthma is caused by constriction and inflammation of your airways, making it difficult for you to breathe. This results in tightness of the chest, cough, and wheezing.
During an asthma attack, the airways constrict further, resulting in severe breathlessness. During an asthma flare-up, you may have a rattling sensation in the chest. Depending on the intensity of your asthma attack, your symptoms may last for several minutes or hours, or even days.
An asthma attack is caused by triggers that irritate your lungs. Some of them are:
- Chemicals such as smoke, perfume, or cleaning products
- Extreme cold or heat
- Food allergies
- Upper respiratory infections
Quick-acting inhalers can help in reducing your symptoms and stop the attack. But if your symptoms get worse, you may need to seek emergency medical attention.
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Asthma & Anxiety Differences
Asthma and anxiety both can cause a feeling of tightness in your chest and breathing difficulties.
But the main difference is that hyperventilation during a panic attack increases oxygen flow, while constriction during an asthma attack reduces your oxygen intake.
Besides, wheezing and coughing are mainly associated with asthma attacks. And people with anxiety attacks may have symptoms beyond breathlessness.
Recognizing the difference between these conditions will help you and your doctor create an effective treatment plan. For instance, medications, such as bronchodilators, used to manage asthma worsen your anxiety.
Can I Prevent Asthma Flare
You have the power to prevent flare-ups, at least some of the time. Heres what you can do:
- Always have your inhaler with you.
- Stay away from triggers that you know may cause flare-ups. Try to avoid being around smokers â and dont smoke yourself.
- If you use a long-term control medicine, follow your doctors instructions for taking it every day. Dont skip it or take less because you feel OK.
- Work with your parents and doctor to follow your asthma action plan.
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How Does Stress Affect Asthma
depicts our working model of stress and asthma. It highlights the importance of both social and physical exposures in the exacerbation of symptoms. The basic premise of the model is that psychological stress operates by altering the magnitude of the airway inflammatory response that irritants, allergens, and infections bring about in persons with asthma. It is important to note that the model suggests that stress on its own is NOT capable of modifying immune functions in a way that leads to asthmatic symptoms. Rather, stress is viewed as a process that accentuates the airway inflammatory response to environmental triggers and, in doing so, increases the frequency, duration, and severity of patients’ symptoms.
Model depicting the interaction of psychological stress with environmental triggers in influencing asthma exacerbations. The basic premise of the model is that stress operates by altering the magnitude of the airway inflammatory response that irritants, allergens, and infections bring about in persons with asthma. The figure provides an overview of the relevant biological pathways to airway inflammation and bronchoconstriction, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the sympathetic-adrenal-medullary axis, and the sympathetic and parasympathetic arms of the autonomic nervous system.
Side Effects Of Steroid Tablets
Oral steroids carry a risk if they are taken for more than three months or if they are taken frequently . Side effects can include:
- easy bruising
- muscle weakness
With the exception of increased appetite, which is very commonly experienced by people taking oral steroids, most of these unwanted effects are uncommon.
However, it is a good idea to keep an eye out for them regularly, especially side effects that are not immediately obvious, such as high blood pressure, thinning of the bones, diabetes and glaucoma.
You will need regular appointments to check for these.
Read further information:
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Asthma: 10 Common Questions Answered
For most parents and kids, spring means sunny warm weather, outdoor sports and more outside playtime. For many others, spring also means more asthma flare-ups more time outside means more exposure to asthma triggers, and more sports means more exercise-induced asthma.
Although childhood asthma is common, many people really dont know much about it. So we thought wed answer some common questions about what asthma is and how its treated.
What Are Common Asthma Attack Triggers
An asthma attack happens when someone comes in contact with substances that irritate them. Healthcare providers call these substances triggers. Knowing what triggers your asthma makes it easier to avoid asthma attacks.
For some people, a trigger can bring on an attack right away. Sometimes, an attack may start hours or days later.
Triggers can be different for each person. But some common triggers include:
- Air pollution: Many things outside can cause an asthma attack. Air pollution includes factory emissions, car exhaust, wildfire smoke and more.
- Dust mites: You cant see these bugs, but they are in many homes. If you have a dust mite allergy, they can cause an asthma attack.
- Exercise: For some people, exercising can cause an attack.
- Mold: Damp places can spawn mold. It can cause problems for people with asthma. You dont even have to be allergic to mold to have an attack.
- Pests: Cockroaches, mice and other household pests can cause asthma attacks.
- Pets: Your pets can cause asthma attacks. If youre allergic to pet dander , breathing in the dander can irritate your airways.
- Tobacco smoke: If you or someone in your home smokes, you have a higher risk of developing asthma. The best solution is to quit smoking.
- Strong chemicals or smells.
With asthma, you may not have all of these symptoms. You may have different signs at different times. And symptoms can change between asthma attacks.
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How Centric Healthcare Can Help
Asthma attacks can be particularly worrisome for seniors who have a variety of medical conditions. Frequent attacks can exacerbate some conditions and diminish the overall quality of life. Among the services we offer is medication therapy management. As an essential component of home health care medication therapy management can ensure that you or your loved one will have the proper dosage of medication to control asthma episodes. Our trained staff can recognize changes in health that require a doctors evaluation. These services can bring you peace of mind, knowing that your needs are being thoroughly monitored. We can also customize home senior care services that will meet your needs.
Contact Central Healthcare today to learn more about how we can help manage asthma or provide you with other home health services.
What To Do If You Have An Asthma Attack
If you think youre having an asthma attack, you should:
Never be frightened of calling for help in an emergency.
Try to take the details of your medicines with you to hospital if possible.
If your symptoms improve and you do not need to call 999, get an urgent same-day appointment to see a GP or asthma nurse.
This advice is not for people on SMART or MART treatment. If this applies to you, ask a GP or asthma nurse what to do if you have an asthma attack.
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What Are The Symptoms Of An Asthma Flare
Common symptoms are coughing, shortness of breath , a feeling of tightness in the chest and wheezing. Its important to watch yourself every day for symptoms of asthma. You may have only one or two of these symptoms.
Another clue that your asthma is flaring up is that you have to take extra doses of your quick-relief asthma medicine more than twice a week because of these symptoms.
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Develop An Action Plan
Your asthma action plan is a detailed guide to managing and treating your asthma symptoms. In addition to providing information for you, your healthcare providers, and family and friends on what to do during a mild, moderate, or severe asthma flare-up, an asthma action plan should include:
- Your medical history, including allergies and co-occurring medical conditions
- Contact information for your loved ones, the emergency department, your healthcare provider, and any other pertinent people
- Information about your medications, including the dose, frequency, and instructions on how to administer them in an emergency
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How To Manage Stress With Asthma
Stress is part of daily life — with or without asthma. That’s why it’s important to find effective ways to manage stress if you do have the disorder. Learning to relax before you feel stressed can help you prevent shortness of breath and avoid an asthma attack.
Change Your Thoughts. Learn to change thought patterns that produce stress. What you think, how you think, what you expect, and what you tell yourself often determine how you feel and how well you manage rising stress levels.
Reduce Your Stressors. Identify the major stressors in your life such as money problems, relationship problems, grief, too many deadlines, and lack of support. If you can’t resolve these stressors alone, get professional help.
Avoid Stressful Situations. Try to avoid situations that trigger stress for you. Practice effective time-management skills, such as delegating when appropriate, setting priorities, pacing yourself, and taking time out for yourself.
Get Plenty of Sleep. With asthma or any chronic illness, you need plenty of sleep. If you are not sleeping well or suffer with nighttime asthma, you will have less energy and fewer resources for coping with stress. Developing good sleep habits is very important. Here are seven sleep tips:
What Happens During An Asthma Flare
During a flare-up, you might have:
- trouble breathing
- a whistling sound when you breathe
- a cough
Flare-ups happen when the airways in the lungs get more irritated and swollen than usual. Your lungs might make a sticky mucus, which clogs the airways. The muscles around the airways will also tighten up, making them really narrow. This clogging and narrowing make it tough to pull air in and push air out.
Some flare-ups are mild, but others are serious. If the flare-up is severe, a person might:
- struggle to breathe or have fast breathing even when sitting still
- not be able to speak more than a few words at a time without pausing
- have retractions while breathing in
Flare-ups can happen suddenly. They also can build up over time, especially if you haven’t been taking your asthma medicine.
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If You Dont Have Asthma You May Be Able To Lower Your Risk For Developing It In The Future
Obesity is a major risk factor for adult-onset asthma, which is a type that develops after childhood. Maintaining a healthy weight by eating a healthy diet and regularly exercising could lower your risk for developing asthma later on.
Breathing in irritants or allergens like tobacco smoke, mold, chemicals, pesticides, or other types of air pollution could also trigger the emergence of asthma. Avoid these whenever possible.
Asthma has been on the rise for a number of years, and air pollution is one hypothesis as to why, says Emily Pennington, MD, a pulmonologist and asthma specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. But the precise underlying drivers of asthma formation remain mysterious.