Give First Aid during an Asthma Attack

Edited by Anonymous

Asthma is a condition that must be monitored closely. Even a simple asthma attack can become very complicated if not tended to properly. Asthma attacks can happen anywhere, and knowing what to do when they occur can save a life. Changing weather, pollution, and overexertion are only a few triggers of asthma, and while all of this cannot be eliminated, you can decrease the risks of an asthma attack through some of the following steps.

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Do not use information in this wiki without first consulting a doctor. This is not meant to replace medical advice. This is for informational purposes only.

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What is Asthma?

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Asthma is also commonly referred to as "reactive airway disease" or "bronchial asthma" which pertains to a chronic illness described as an inflammation of the airways which constricts the air passages making it difficult for oxygen to reach and fill the lungs. It's a saddening fact that asthma is deemed incurable. However, there are varied ways to effectively manage and deal with the perils of asthma and be able to live an otherwise normal life. Asthma is commonly triggered by environmental factors which can cause irritation thus tightening the muscles around the air passages making it difficult for air to move freely. Patients suffering from asthma usually have red and inflamed bronchial tubes which require immediate medical treatment to avoid any further serious complications and irreversible damage to the lungs.

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Asthma is linked to eosinophils, mast cells, and T lymphocytes which trigger hyperresponsiveness or hypersensitivity of the lungs. T lymphocytes are white blood cells (WBC) that precipitate swelling and allergy symptoms, mast cells are special cells that release "histamine" which cause the common cold, nasal allergies, skin allergies, and hay fever; while the eosinophils are associated with allergic reactions. More mucus is also inadvertently produced in the lungs which further tighten the air passages. Asthma can be induced by doing rigorous physical activities or exercise routines which is called "exercise-induced asthma". There are also asthma attacks that are usually felt early in the morning (diurnal) or late at night (nocturnal).

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Risk Factors for Asthma

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  1. 1
    Age.
    Asthma can occur at any age (from infants to elderly) in both men and women but are usually more prevalent to younger individuals under 40. In fact, onset of asthma symptoms usually become apparent at age 5.
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  2. 2
    Heredity.
    You are considered to be of greater risk of contracting the disease if you have a medical history of asthma in the family tree.
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  3. 3
    Ethnicity.
    Puerto Ricans and Blacks (African-Americans) are regarded to be more prone to getting asthma as compared to other ethnic groups.
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  4. 4
    Cigarette Smoking.
    People who habitually smoke on a regular basis are said to be at a higher risk of having asthma in contrast to non-smokers. Passive smokers or those people who are constantly exposed to a smoking environment increases one's likelihood of contracting such respiratory disease. It is wise to note that exposure before and after pregnancy to tobacco smoke also increases an infant's risk factor to asthma.
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  5. 5
    Allergies.
    Certain allergies such as nasal or skin allergies (eczema) and hay fever also put you at high risk of having asthma or can even aggravate existing asthma conditions.
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  6. 6
    Low birth weight.
    Babies born with a significantly low birth weight due to some nutritional, environmental, or genetic factors are also regarded more susceptible to having asthma as opposed to babies with normal birth weight.
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  7. 7
    Respiratory diseases.
    If you are suffering from a number of respiratory illnesses such as sinusitis, nasal polyps, and ear infections then you are also prone to developing asthma.
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Common Causes of Asthma

  1. 1
    Environmental Allergens.
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    This pertain to certain environmental triggers that include pollen, pet dander, dust mites, food, and molds which can cause inflammation of bronchial tubes and constriction of the air passages.
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  2. 2
    Weather Conditions.
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    Being exposed to extreme and erratic changes in weather conditions can precipitate sudden asthma attacks.Being in an extremely dry temperature can also worsen or trigger asthma in all ages.
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  3. 3
    Drug and Food Allergies.
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    People who have certain food and drug allergies associated to monosodium glutamate (Message), sodium sulfite, nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs(NSAID), aspirin, and beta-blockers are also known to trigger asthma. Some of the most common food or derivatives that trigger asthma bouts are fish, eggs, peanuts, shrimps, soy, and wheat.
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  4. 4
    Air Pollution.
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    Exposure to industrial fumes as well as smoke coming from vehicles and cigarette smoking can irritate the lungs and cause vicious asthma attacks.
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  5. 5
    Exercises.
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    Doing rigorous or strenuous exercises that make you relatively tired and out of breath can actually trigger asthma attacks.
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  6. 6
    Strong Odors.
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    Certain strong perfumes or smell of fresh paint can be nauseating and trigger asthma symptoms.
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  7. 7
    Stress.
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    Being in an overwhelming state of stress can cause anxiety attacks which can trigger asthma bouts.
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Tell-Tale Signs and Symptoms of an Asthma Attack

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  1. 1
    Wheezing.
    Repetitive breathing in and out which produces a shrieking sound.
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  2. 2
    Tightness of the chest.
    Pertains to the inflammation of the bronchioles and chest walls which makes breathing very difficult and painful.
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  3. 3
    Nausea.
    Due to lack of oxygen, the patient may feel dizzy and have difficulty concentrating. Vision could be diminished or affected.
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  4. 4
    Vomiting.
    The dizzy spells and lack of air can make you throw up.
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  5. 5
    Incessant coughing.
    The patient may cough continuously due to the inhaled irritants and increased sticky mucus production that can fill up the lungs making it entirely painstaking to breathe properly.
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  6. 6
    Rapid breathing.
    This is most commonly observed in asthma sufferers. The nostrils are flared up and the mouth gaped open.
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  7. 7
    Profuse sweating.
    Due to too much exertion in respiration, the patient may be sweating too much and could also appear pale.
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  8. 8
    Appearance of blue lips and fingernails.
    The restricted oxygen supply in the lungs and other organ systems may cause the patient's lips and fingernails to turn from healthy pink to pale blue.
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Dealing With an Attack

  1. 1
    Remain Calm.
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    The first, and probably most important rule, whether you are the patient or the respondent, is to be calm. Keep calm, yet assertive, so that you can maintain control over your body. Do not let yourself panic.
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  2. 2
    Find a Paper Bag.
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    If you don't have a paper bag, find something similar. Do not use a plastic bag because it will suffocate the patient more. Place the bag over the patients mouth and breathe. During an asthma attack patients tend to inhale quickly and thus lose carbon dioxide in the process. This increases the risk of having an alkalosis, which is an acid base imbalance. Breathing in the paper bag helps to recycle the carbon dioxide that is exhaled.
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  3. 3
    Put Patient in Proper Position.
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    Place the patient in sitting position, leaning slightly forward. This gives the patients lungs more room for expansion so that he or she may take in more air.
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  4. 4
    Give medication.
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    Usually patients with asthma carry inhalers or other medications with them in case they have an asthma attack. Sometimes they just need assistance because they have difficulty of breathing.
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  5. 5
    Go to the Hospital.
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    Just to be sure, bring the patient to the nearest hospital for medical attention. Even if you have given first aid, it does not mean that the attack is over.
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Tips Tricks & Warnings

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  • Try to converse with the asthma sufferer to help keep him or her calm.
  • Give the patient plenty of room to breathe. Try to avoid crowded areas.
  • Do not risk further complications, even if the patient seems to be breathing normally. Take him or her to the hospital.

Questions and Answers

Do you put a paper bag by an asthma attack?

Do you put a paper bag by an asthma attack

No, do not do that.

Breathing in a paper bag helps only during an anxiety disorder accompanied by hurried deep breathing attacks with numbness and a prickling sensation in limbs, which are the signs of hyperventilation (intensive breathing that exceeds the oxygen demand in a person). In this case, breathing into a paper bag substitutes the need of carbon dioxide for the person that he or she exhaled during the hyperventilation attack. By using this method, it is possible both to prevent and to stop the hyperventilation attack only if it is recurrent, if you have visited the doctor who diagnosed you with that, and if you are sure that you have nothing related to chronic obstructive lung disease or bronchial asthma. If you have chronic obstructive lung disease or bronchial asthma, then it is contra-indicated to breathe into a paper bag during the attack, as it will only further decrease the amount of oxygen in blood, and, therefore, deteriorate your condition.

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How can breathing in a paper bag help an asthmatic patients?

How can breathing in paper bag help an asthmatic patients? Will it cause any problems? Why breathing in a paper bag?

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Tips on asthma attack for 8 year old kid?

My daughter has an asthma attack, I had given her a low dosage salbutamol & a Ventolin nebula 5 minutes later. What time should I give her the next dose, she is a little bit OK now.

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