How to help in the event of an asthma attack
Asthma is an extremely common chronic and potentially life threatening condition that affects nearly 10% of children and a large number of adults too. There are over 25,000 emergency hospital admissions for asthma amongst children in the UK every year and many more when you include adult asthmatics too. Many asthmatics find that there is a particular time of year when their asthma becomes more difficult to control; for some cold weather is a challenge, however for many Spring is particularly difficult.
When someone has Asthma; their airways go into spasm which causes tightness of the chest; the linings of the airways become inflamed and produce phlegm leading to extreme difficulty in breathing.
Symptoms of asthma:
- shortness of breath
- tightness in the chest
- Often people find it particularly difficult to breathe out and have an increase in sticky mucus and phlegm
- Not everyone will get all of these symptoms.
NOTE: Encouraging someone to sit upright is generally helpful when dealing with breathing problems. Sitting the wrong way round on a chair may be a good position for them.
DO NOT take them outside for fresh air if it is cold – as cold air makes symptoms worse.
How to help in an asthma attack
The following guidelines are suitable for both children and adults:
Be calm and reassuring as reducing the stress and keeping the casualty calm really helps them to control their symptoms and panic can increase the severity of an attack. Take one to two puffs of the reliever inhaler (usually blue), immediately – using a spacer device if available.
- Stay as calm as you can and encourage them to stay calm too
- Sit them down, loosen any tight clothing and encourage them to take slow, steady breaths.
- If they do not start to feel better, they should take more puffs of their reliever inhaler
- If they do not start to feel better after taking their inhaler as above, or if you are worried at any time, call 999/112.
- They should keep taking the reliever inhaler whilst waiting for the paramedics to arrive
- If you suspect the asthma attack maybe due to an allergic reaction and the reliever inhaler is not working. If the person has been prescribed an adrenaline auto-injector in case of an acute allergic reaction – it would be advisable to give this injection into the upper, outer part of their thigh according to the instructions. If worried in any way, check with the emergency services and keep them informed and updated as to the casualty’s condition.
You can learn more about Asthma and its triggers here at First Aid For Life