Living With Asthma
Asthma is a chronic lung condition and approximately one in every eleven people in the UK is living with asthma. It is a chronic condition that affects the airways and the ability to be able to breathe properly.
I have lived with asthma my entire life. I can go months without an attack, but I can also go weeks of needing my inhaler on a daily basis.
Living with asthma means I have had to learn to be aware of what may trigger an attack. I know that a sudden change in temperature, like going into a warm building after being outside in the cold can trigger an attack. I also know that outdoor exercise can induce an attack, more so in the winter. For some reason when it’s windy I am more prone to getting tight chested, I’m guessing it’s because the air is full of dust, pollen, and other irritants.
Bonfires can have me wheezing like a chronic smoker. And when I get a heavy cold I know the signs that mean I need to start taking preventative inhalers. I’ve actually had quite a bad attack brought on by laughing too much when I was still getting over a cold.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a condition that affects the airways, causing them to tighten and become inflamed, restricting the airflow into the lungs. There can also be an overproduction of mucus, which causes coughing, especially at night. Anyone can suffer from asthma and it affects the young, the old and anyone in between in varying degrees. Some people are born with asthma and other’s go on to develop it later in life. It can run in family’s as it does in mine.
An asthma attack can vary in severity, but must always be treated seriously. I am lucky that for the most part a dose of my quick acting inhaler will prevent a full blown attack. If my chest is weak due to a cold I will take long-term prevention inhalers for as long as I need (and a bit more) and nighttime medication to keep an attack at bay.
Knowing The Signs Of An Impending Asthma Attack
There have been times when I have ended up hospitalized. There have also been times when I have resisted going to the hospital, which is a really, really silly thing to do. Asthma is a killer and should be treated seriously, no matter how mild you think you have it.
For me, the sign of an attack is usually strange itching under my chin that runs down my throat. It’s hard to explain, but as soon as I get that feeling I know I am at risk of having an asthma attack and have my inhaler handy. A wheeze and a tightening around the ribcage is also a good sign that an attack may be about to happen.
I’m not sure if the symptoms are the same for every person who is living with asthma. My asthma is relatively mild, so for someone who suffers badly from the condition, the signs may be different.
What Does An Asthma Attack Feel Like?
Being unable to breathe properly is a scary feeling. For anyone who doesn’t suffer from asthma try putting a drinking straw in your mouth and seal your lips around it. Now walk, only taking air in through the straw (no cheating). Not a nice feeling is it? And the more severe the attack the smaller the straw.
It is not uncommon to get an achy ribcage through trying to breathe either. When an attack is over the lungs can feel sort of loose and breathing can feel a little too easy. And I find that sometimes the medication can give me a slight tremble.
Asthma And Exercise
There is no doubt that exercise is good for all of us, but when a person is living with asthma they have to be aware of how far they can push themselves without triggering an attack. I have never let my asthma stop me from doing anything, but I know when to stop.
I enjoy a morning run, and in the winter I know the colder weather can trigger an attack. If I feel the signs of an attack coming on I walk for a bit. If the signs don’t go away I take my inhaler and walk until I feel it’s okay to run again. I always have my inhaler handy, but try not to take it unless I have to as often the symptoms will pass on their own.
What To Do When Someone Is Having An Asthma Attack
If you are with someone who is having an asthma attack, the worst thing you can do is panic. Believe you me the person who is having the attack is going to be feeling pretty panicked as it is, especially if it’s a bad one.
If it’s a mild attack, the sufferer should be able to take their inhaler and soon be able to continue what they were doing. If the person doesn’t have their quick acting inhaler on them, sit them down and go and locate an inhaler.
If the attack is more severe then the person will need help and reassurance. Sit them down. Help them take their quick acting inhaler. If the inhaler doesn’t work or if the person is unresponsive then you will need to get them medical attention. Take them to a medical center or the nearest hospital or phone for help. A severe attack can kill.
Whilst waiting for help talk to the person (don’t expect answers). Help them concentrate on breathing as deeply, in and out, as they can until help gets there. Don’t lie the person down, for some reason, it’s harder to breath lying down. Do put pillows or something to help prop them up from behind.
- Remember! To stay calm. The worst thing you can do is outwardly panic.
Having A Child With Asthma
Even more worrying than suffering from asthma yourself is when your child suffers from the condition. Moreso if you yourself do not. But I’ll save that post for another day!
How do you find living with asthma?
© 2016, Debbie. All rights reserved.