In the UK, around 1 in every 12 adults and 1 in every 11 children are being treated for asthma. It can develop at any age and we don’t know exactly why certain people develop asthma, except that it is more likely if there is a family history of the condition.
Asthma is caused by inflammation of the tubes that carry air to and from your lungs, called bronchi. When someone suffering from asthma comes into contact with one of their ‘triggers’, the airways narrow and the production of phlegm increases, causing difficulty breathing.
Asthma triggers can be anything from dust mites, animal fur and pollen, to viral infections, exercise or cigarette smoke.
There is no cure for asthma, but by being aware of triggers and using treatments such as inhalers, the condition can be well managed. Unfortunately, asthma attacks cannot always be avoided and it’s important to know what to do if this happens.
How to recognise an asthma attack
Here are the signs to look out for if you think you or someone else may be having an asthma attack:
- The inhaler isn’t helping
- Symptoms are getting worse, such as breathlessness, wheezing, coughing or a tight chest
- It is becoming difficult to speak, eat or sleep
- Your breathing is getting faster and you feel as though you can’t get air in properly
- In the case of children, they may also complain of a tummy ache
The 5 steps to follow during an asthma attack
Take a look at these steps to follow, from Asthma UK, if you or someone else is having an asthma attack. These steps are not designed for those a SMART or MART regime – if you are on one of these regimes, then speak to a GP or asthma nurse to get the correct information for you.
- Sit up straight
- Take one puff of your inhaler every 30-60 seconds, up to a maximum of 10 puffs
- If you feel worse at any point while you’re using your inhaler or you don’t feel better after 10 puffs or you’re worried at any time, call 999 for an ambulance.
- If the ambulance is taking longer than 15 minutes you can repeat step 2.
- If your symptoms improve and you don’t need to go to A&E, you still need to see a GP or asthma nurse that same day
The most important thing to takeaway is that if you are worried, call 999. Asthma attacks can be serious and you should never worry about causing a fuss – just make the call.
For more information, visit Asthma UK.