Be Prepared: How to Help Someone Having an Asthma Attack

Asthma affects people of all ages and can significantly affect one’s quality of life. Learn more about this noncommunicable disease and how you can help someone suffering from an asthma attack.

Why does asthma happen?

Asthma happens when your airways constrict and swell. Sometimes, it also produces excess mucus. This occurrence makes it harder to breathe. Asthma frequently begins in childhood, a period wherein the immune system is still in its development stages.

It may be triggered by several factors, such as genetics, viral infections affecting breathing, or exposure to environmental triggers (cigarette smoke, germs). 

What are signs of an asthma attack?

Here are telltale signs of an asthma attack:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Wheezing (high-pitched whistling sound made while breathing) when inhaling or exhaling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pressure or tightness in the chest
  • Difficulty talking
  • Blue lips or fingernails

What can I do to help someone having an asthma attack?

Here are some steps you can take to help someone having a bout of asthma:

  • Ensure the person is in a comfortable position. Sitting in an upright position is ideal as this can help open up your airways further. 
  • Stay calm and reassure the person.
  • If they are prescribed medication already, help them get a hold of their inhaler. There are different types of inhalers with their own sets of instructions, depending on the type of medication they contain. If the patient can talk, ask them about the proper way to use the inhaler so you may assist them. According to the British Red Cross, the patient can take one or two puffs every 30 or 60 seconds until they have taken 10 puffs.  
  • If it is a first occurrence of an attack or if the symptoms do not get better, call for professional medical help immediately.

Knowing the basics about asthma can go a long way to help someone in need. Aside from these preparedness tips, providing support and encouragement may help asthma patients achieve a life where the condition is a manageable companion rather than an overwhelming challenge.

General disclaimer 

Your doctor will always be in the best position to give the appropriate medical advice for your condition. Always buy your medicine from your trusted drugstores and retailers.