Preventing Asthma Attacks

What is asthma?

Asthma is a long-term chronic condition that affects the airways. It causes your airways to get inflamed and narrow, and it makes it hard to breathe. Severe asthma can cause trouble taking or being active. Some triggers include exposure to an allergen or irritant, viruses, exercise, emotional stress and other factors. Some people refer to asthma as “bronchial Asthma”

Asthma is a serious disease that affects about 25 million American and causes nearly 2 million emergency room visits every year. With the treatments, you can live well. But without this treatment, you might have to go the ER often or stay at the hospital, which can affect you daily life.

Signs and Symptoms:

Early warning signs of asthma include:

  1. Frequent cough, especially at night
  2. Losing your breath easily or shortness of breath
  3. Feeling very tired or weak when exercising
  4. Wheezing or coughing after exercise
  5. Feeling tried, easily upset, grouchy, or moody
  6. Decreases or changes in lung function as measured on a peek flow meter

Signs of a cold or allergies

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Trouble sleeping

Other symptoms of an asthma attack include;

Coughing that won’t stop, very rapid breathing, chest pain or pressure, tighten neck and chest muscles, called retractions, feelings of anxiety or panic, pale, sweaty face, blue lips and finger nails


Physical exam: Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask you question about your signs and symptoms and about any other health problem.

Test to measure lung function: You may also be given lung (pulmonary) function tests to determine how much air moves in and out as you breathe. These test may include Spirometry. This test estimates the narrowing of your bronchial tubes by checking how much air you can exhale after a deep breath and how fast you can breathe out.

Now the second one is Peal Flow, is a simple device that measures how hard you can breathe out. Lower than usual peak flow reading are a signs your lungs may not be working as well and that your asthma may be getting worse. Long function test often are doe before and after taking a medication called a bronchodilator to open your airways. If your long function improves with use of bronchodilator it’s likely you have asthma.

Additional test:

  • Methacholine challenge is known asthma trigger that, when inhaled, will cause mild constriction of your airways. If you react to the methacholine, you likely have asthma.
  • Nitric oxide Test, though not widely available measures the amount of the gas, nitric oxide, that you have in your breath. When you airways are inflamed a sign of asthma – you may have higher than normal nitric oxide levels.
  • Allergy testing can be performed by a skin test or blood test.


Treatments usually involves learning to recognize your triggers, taking steps to avoid them and tracking your breathing to make sure your daily asthma medications are keeping symptoms under control. In case of an asthma flare-up, you may need to use a quick-relief inhaler. Preventing, long term control medications reduce the inflammation in your airways that leads to symptoms.

Quick-relief inhalers (bronchodilators) quickly open swollen airways that limiting breathing. In some cases, allergy medications are necessary.

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