In living with Asthma to the extent that I do, I often get asked many questions. Even though I have already posted today, I just fancied answering some of those questions that people ask me:
1. What is the difference between an asthma attack and a panic attack?
This is a common question. During an asthma attack the person who is going through it will be experiencing any combination of the following symptoms: tightness in the chest, wheezy breathing (usually it feels harder to get air out of your lungs, but this does vary), cough. Although not all these symptoms have to be present for an asthma attack. This is all caused by the airways going in to spasm and closing up.
Outwardly, a panic attack can look very similar. The person who is suffering will be hyperventilating (breathing very fast and shallow) and usually calms down on their own. The best you can do with a panic attack is to calm the person down and remove them from the subject of distress.
2. What does an asthma attack feel like?
Each asthmatic feels an attack differently so it is impossible to define it in a way that relates to everyone. For me, it starts with generally feeling tired and run down, I won't be interested in very much at all or all I will want to do is sleep, although I find it hard to get to sleep. I won't eat very much nor will I really get up and move around much. It feels like someone who is sitting on me and I won't be myself at all. After this, I develop a chesty, rattling cough and become wheezy. It is here that I start treating my attack and hope for the best. This can and often does progress and deteriorate very quickly.
3. How do you know when to use your medication or call for an ambulance?
I have been told many times by my doctors to go by my instincts and let my symptoms be my guide. I know to reach for the inhaler when my symptoms start, and I will use up to 10 puffs of that if needed to calm things down. If that doesn't help, then I move to my nebulisers. I will have 1 of each nebule to begin with and another of salbutamol (Ventolin) on it's own afterward if the first didn't do the trick. If this hasn't worked as it should have, this doesn't happen often now but it used to be a regular thing, then Steve or whoever is with me will dial 999 and get an ambulance to me. This will usually result in either time on wards or the A & E department where I will be given nebulisers, steroids (either pills or IV) and oxygen to stablise my breathing and get me back to normal. Once I have been discharged, I will usually have extra steroids for a week and antibiotics because I usually have an infection.
4. How do you feel after an asthma attack?
In short, exhausted, sore and I will just curl up and go to sleep. It can take up to a week for me to recover, even longer if that recovery time has been interrupted by further asthma attacks. An asthma attack is a very tiring thing.
5. What do I do if I suspect someone is suffering from an asthma attack?
My first advice would be DO NOT PANIC. If they can speak ask them if they have their medication and help them take it as instructed or by the Asthma UK Guidelines. Click here to find these. If the inhalers don't help or YOU ARE IN DOUBT, call for help STRAIGHT AWAY. Remember asthma attacks can be fatal, so PLEASE be sensible about it and take it seriously.
That's it for the questions, but if you do have more don't be afraid to email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I may not be able to answer them all, but I promise to do my best to answer as many as I can, also I really would recommend a look through the Asthma UK website and find out as much information as you can.
3 years ago