Asthma is a long-term inflammatory disease of the airways and lungs. It can cause episodes of wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma in the UK, including 1.1 million children and 4.3 million adults. Although on average three people a day die from asthma, many sufferers leave their medicine at home and end up suffering throughout the day or even having an asthma attack! Many companies perform medical trails to try and find better treatments, such as Hammersmith Medical Research and HMR Bridging Studies, but there are still many people suffering from asthma. Here are six things you can do straight away to help if you are caught in an asthma attack without a pump.
The first thing you need to make sure you are doing is sit perfectly upright. Sitting upright causes your lungs to stretch and expand, which means you are increasing the surface area on your lungs which increases the amount of gas exchange. Therefore, as the lungs are flexible, expanding the chest is an ideal way to get more air in to your lungs and ease your asthma attack. It is also a natural tendency so even if you do not remember to sit upright, you probably will be doing it anyway.
Take deep breaths
Taking long deep breaths not only helps to slow down the rate that you are breathing, but it also helps to prevent hyperventilation. As previously mentioned, sitting upright increases the surface area on your lungs, so by breathing deeper, you are transporting more oxygen in to your lungs and helping calm the asthma attack down. It is best to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
It is no use trying to calm the asthma attack down if you cannot stay calm yourself. Deep breaths will help you to stay calm. Take control of the situation and focus on beating the asthma attack. Staying calm also prevents further tightening of your chest muscles and will make your breathing easier.
Get away from the trigger
A lot of asthma attacks are triggered by certain substances in the air such as dust, cigarette smoke or chemicals like ammonia or chlorine gas. You need to make sure that you get away from the trigger as soon as possible if you know what the trigger is. Go in to an air-conditioned room or somewhere that can offer clean, fresh air.
Drink a hot caffeinated beverage
Hot caffeinated drinks like coffee can help to open the airways slightly. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cola drinks and cocoa. Caffeine is a drug that is very similar to theophylline. Theophylline is a bronchodilator drug that is taken to open up the airways in the lungs and therefore relieve the symptoms of asthma, such as wheezing, coughing and breathlessness
Seek emergency medical help
If the wheezing, coughing and breathing difficulty do not subside after a period of rest, seek immediate medical attention. Make sure that you or someone else is able to get you to a hospital as soon as possible so you can be treated. Asthma can be deadly and, as previously stated, kills on average three people a year.