What’s an Asthma Attack? Here’ All You Need to Know


One of the terrifying experiences one can have is struggling to breathe. You might feel as though someone is sitting on your chest, and drawing a full breath seems impossible. Your chest keeps on tightening, and anxiety quickly kicks in. This is the feeling that most people who have an asthma attack experience.

Asthma attacks have landed countless people in the emergency room near you. It’s not a pretty sight when you are gasping for air and, at times, feeling as though you are drawing your last breath.

Even though asthma can be life-threatening at times, many people have received care from our ER near you and are living happy and productive lives.

What’s an Asthma Attack?

First things first, asthma is a term used to describe a condition in which there is an inflammation and obstruction of the airways or bronchial tubes. So, when you have an asthma attack, it means that you have an abrupt worsening of asthma symptoms because of the tightening of your airways.

During an asthma attack, bronchospasm (tightening of the muscles around the airways) causes a contraction that is accompanied by extra mucus. When you are having an asthma attack, three factors act in concert; mucus production, inflammation, and bronchospasm. These factors make breathing difficult, and if they are not taken care of promptly, you might find yourself looking for emergency care.

What Are the Causes?

Typically, if you have been exposed to specific allergens such as pollen, mold, dust, or animal dander, you can have an asthma attack. Other triggers can be irritants in the air, such as chemical fumes, smoke, and strong smells.

Other than allergens, some illnesses can trigger an asthma attack, such as the flu, sinusitis, or any other mild respiratory infection. Also, the following factors can cause an asthma attack:

  • Cold weather
  • Vigorous exercise
  • Strong emotions that can alter how you breathe
  • Certain foods

Most of the time, food allergies can cause severe asthma attacks that you might need an emergency room near you.


The classic asthma attack symptoms are:

  • Chest tightness or pressure
  • Coughing that won’t stop
  • Pale, sweaty face
  • Severe wheezing when you breathe
  • Difficulty talking
  • Worsening symptoms despite using medications
  • Very rapid breathing
  • Tightened chest and neck muscles

Whenever you have these symptoms, call 911 or the ER near you.

How Will You Recognize the Early Signs?

You need to peel your eyes for the early signs because they occur just prior to an attack. You will notice that these symptoms show up just before you experience the known asthma symptoms. These signals that your asthma is about to worsen.

Some of the early warning signs are:

  • Shortness of breath or losing your breathe easily
  • Wheezing or coughing during or after exercise
  • Signs of a cold or allergies such as a runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion, and sneezing
  • Feeling tired, moody, grouchy
  • Feeling very weak or tired when exercising
  • Trouble sleeping

If you notice these symptoms, promptly tend to them since the severity of an asthma attack can escalate quickly.

Asthma Treatments

If you have asthma, it is best to know the best short-term and long-term treatments that can help manage the symptoms. It is also critical for you to know when to seek 24-hour emergency services if you cannot keep asthma in control.

Without further ado, let’s look at some of the treatments:

Rescue Inhalers

These are quick-relief inhalers designed to relax the muscles that tighten your airways and cause difficulty in breathing.

Preventive Long-Term Medication

Typically, these medications are used to treat asthma symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. They reduce the swelling and mucus overproduction and causes the lungs to be less sensitive to asthma triggers. Some of these medications can be:

  • Inhaled long-acting beta-agonists
  • Combination inhaled medicines
  • Leukotriene modifiers
  • Long-acting bronchodilator
  • Corticosteroids
  • Theophylline
  • Inhaled corticosteroids

You also need to see our doctor in our emergency room near you to help you create an asthma action plan. The action plan can help boost your efforts to control the condition.

Asthma can be life-threatening, especially if you do not get immediate treatment. You can call our doctor at Express ER, who would love to take care of you.

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