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What to do after an asthma attack?

With so many people suffering from asthma, it's often thought of as being a somewhat minor illness. However, every ten seconds, someone will suffer an asthma attack which can be life threatening if not dealt with quickly and calmly. Indeed, asthma attacks can be lethal, causing 3 deaths a day in the UK – many of which could be avoided if they were dealt with correctly.

Below, we teach you how to respond to an asthma attack, to minimise the risk of danger and help guide you through what can be a traumatic event. We also give you a full guide as to what action you should take after an asthma attack.

Symptoms Of An Asthma Attack

If you don't have asthma or aren't aware of having asthma, you might find yourself wondering if you are, in fact, having an attack at all. Similarly, if you think your friend or loved one may be having an attack, you can check the signs of such against the following:

  • Wheezing (during both inhalation and exhalation)
  • Rapid breathing
  • Uncontrollable coughing
  • Feelings of anxiety of panic
  • Tightened neck and chest muscles
  • Becoming pale
  • Feeling clammy or sweaty

These symptoms can also correspond to a panic or general anxiety attack – and many asthma sufferers note that having an asthma attack can often bring on a panic attack. For this reason, it's important to remain calm during an attack. You can often lessen the symptoms of anxiety and panic by knowing what to do after an asthma attack and having a plan in place.

What To Do After An Asthma Attack

Having an asthma attack can be very scary and often leave you feeling a little light-headed and anxious. This is completely normal, as your body will have just suffered a traumatic experience in feeling that it could not supply enough oxygen to meet your needs.

However, it's important to remember that the asthma attack has passed, and you can now work on preventing any future attacks. This is especially important when you consider that one in seven asthma sufferers will have another attack within two weeks of their first.

In order to avoid needing any emergency treatment or from suffering another asthma attack in the near future, preventative methods are advisable. These consist of a few, simple steps, which can not only help you physically, but will also put your mind at ease.

1. Contact your GP

It is important that you make an appointment with your doctor or nurse as soon as the attack has passed. Let the receptionist know that you have had an asthma attack, and they should give you an appointment within 48 hours. If you feel your attacks are getting worse, try a walk-in centre or request an emergency appointment.

It's important to do this, even if you are currently feeling well. Your doctor or asthma nurse will be able to help you avoid future attacks by reviewing your medication, or work with you to lessen the effects of each attack

2. Continue Your Medication As Normal

While it may be tempting to take more of your inhaler than you normally would, or even to stop using them because you feel they aren't working, it's important to continue your medication as usual. If there does need to be a change, then you and your doctor should be able to work together to alter the level of medication you need – providing you followed our first step.

You should also never stop taking your inhaler, without consulting your doctor first, as these work by relaxing your airways and ensuring that a second asthma attack does not occur. They are also likely to reduce your other symptoms and make your airways less sensitive to triggering environments.

3. Give Yourself Time To Recover

While many make light of asthma, it is still a traumatic experience to suffer with an asthma attack. As such, it is important that you give yourself the space and time to recover from the attack. Use this time to make a recovery plan, in case another asthma attack occurs and be sure to stay in contact with your doctor.

Try to avoid known triggers, as these increase the severity and likelihood of another asthma attack. If you feel that there is another key issue at play, bring this to the attention of your doctor during your next visit, so that your notes can be updated. It also allows your doctor to complete a more thorough investigation, should your asthma worsen.

To conclude

The main thing to remember after going through the ordeal of your asthma attack is to continue your medication as normal, talk to your doctor and give yourself breathing space. These simple instructions are key components in avoiding the danger of another attack, which has been known to happen within two weeks of your previous flare up.

We hope that you have found this guide helpful and now feel comfortable knowing what to do after an asthma attack. Remember that, while this blog has been created with the most up-to-date research, it's always important to listen to your doctor, and follow their guidelines closely. For more information, check out our other blogs and guides to help you live in harmony with your asthma.



Authored & Reviewed By

Mohamed Imran Lakhi

MPharm - Lead Pharmacist
Imran Lakhi is the superintendent pharmacist and founder at Prescription Doctor. He has been at the core of our team.

Published on: 18/09/2019 Reviewed on: 09/06/2021
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