Hey Doc, how does someone end up in an asthma attack and what do I do in case I am close to the person?” is a question posed by Zablon, a resident of Changanyikeni in Dar es Salaam who said he is an avid reader of Your Health. “I have always been intrigued by this after seeing a neighbor who is asthmatic,’’ he continued.
Well, Zablon, asthma is a chronic lung disease. It causes the narrowing of airways. There are millions of people affected by it.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in every 14 people has asthma and the disease affects about 300 million people worldwide.
Like I said at the beginning, asthma causes narrowing of the airways (tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs).
Asthmatic people have inflamed airways. These airways are reddened and swollen.
So, they tend to react strongly to any substances that the person would inhale.
When the airways react, the muscles around them tighten and narrow, causing less air to flow into the lungs.
This process can also lead to production of more mucus than usual. This mucus is a sticky, thick liquid that can further narrow the airways.
This chain of reactions results in asthma symptoms commonly termed as asthma attack. One who experiences this attack goes through periods of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.
Things such as house dust, mites in bedding, carpets and stuffed furniture and pet dander others includes pollens and molds, tobacco smoke and chemical in the workplace can trigger this process.
Other triggers can be cold air, extreme emotional arousal such as anger or fear, and physical exercises. Even certain medications can trigger asthma.
Zablon wants to know what he would do in case someone around him got such an attack. Well, immediate interventions can help prevent morbidity and even death.
You can do the following:
•Help the person into a position of greatest comfort. Usually this is sitting upright while leaning forward.
•Be calm and reassuring.
•Loosen tight / restrictive clothing.
•Encourage him/her to breathe slowly and deeply.
•If the person has asthma medication, such as reliever inhaler, help the patient take it. Get them to take one or two puffs of their inhaler every two minutes with maximum of 10puffs.
•If the patient does not have any medication encourage him/her to continue to breathe slowly and deeply while you are taking him to the nearest healthcare center.
Stay safe, make informed health choices.