Living with asthma can be challenging and it affects people’s daily lives more than you would think. Especially here in Malta, where the air is more often than not filled with dust and pollen.
Most people with asthma know that they should carry their inhalers around with them at all times. But sometimes, an attack can catch you by surprise, and you might not have your inhaler on you. Obviously, the best way to avoid an attack would be to be diligent with your inhalers and to always keep them on you, but sometimes not even an inhaler can help.
If you or someone you are with is surprised by an asthma attack, here are seven things you can do to manage the symptoms.
1. Sit upright
Whatever you’re doing, stop and sit upright.
Ideally on a chair as pictured below, to ensure support. If the below isn’t possible. just make sure you’re sitting as upright as possible. This will help to keep your airways open.
2. Calm down
Panic and stress can worsen your symptoms.
So do what you can to calm down or distract yourself. It can be as simple as switching on the TV and focusing on that. Panicking might also cause you to take short and sharp breaths, which is the last thing you need at the moment.
3. Take long, deep breaths
As mentioned above, you want to avoid taking short or sharp breaths.
This helps to slow down your breathing and prevent hyperventilation. Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth.
4. Get away from the trigger
If the cause of your attack is something identifiable, like a cat or some dust, do all you can to get away from it.
This won’t stop the attack, but it will prevent it from getting any worse.
5. Take a hot, caffeinated drink
Like tea or coffee.
These contain caffeine, which is very similar to the bronchodilator drug theophylline, a drug used in asthma treatment. A bronchodilator is a drug that can open your airways to help relieve asthma symptoms.
6. Call 112
All of the above steps will help you or an asthma suffer to relieve symptoms, but you should alway seek emergency help. Especially if the symptoms persist.
In particular, call emergency help if any of these symptoms appear:
- you can’t speak except in short words or phrases
- you’re straining your chest muscles in an effort to breathe
- your shortness of breath or wheezing is severe, particularly in the early morning or late-night hours
- you begin to feel drowsy or tired
- your lips or face appear blue when you’re not coughing
Tuesday 7th May 2019 is World Asthma Day
And GSK is seeking to raise awareness on ‘Living every breath’, where patients are encouraged to stop and assess their symptoms, to control them to allow them to live their full potential.
An estimated 235 million people worldwide currently suffer from asthma. It is understood that more than 50% of patients have limited or poor control of their asthma, despite being treated for their condition. For some, the severity of their asthma even limits them from performing core functions of their day.
GSK has contributed to the development of the Asthma Control Test which can easily be accessed here, and provides asthma sufferers and their doctors with a useful score which will help them determine their level of asthma control. Maltese asthmatic patients are encouraged to take this online test which takes less than 60 seconds to complete.
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