It’s no accident that asthma flare-ups are called attacks. When their airways narrow or shut down, people literally feel as if they’re fighting for their lives—and in many cases, they are.
Our airways naturally narrow a bit when we’re exposed to smoke, allergens, pollutants, very cold air, or substances that can harm us if we inhale them. But in people with asthma, perhaps due to a glitch in their genes, this response is exaggerated. Most people can quickly reverse an asthma attack using prescription medication—usually an inhaled bronchodilator—to open the constricted airways. When an attack is prolonged, however, the inhaler doesn’t do much good. As airways become more inflamed and often clogged with mucus, it gets harder and harder to breathe. This type of episode is a medical emergency, and you need to get to the nearest hospital emergency room—quickly.
Although asthma is a challenging condition, you can live with it. The key is to work with your doctor, follow his or her instructions, and consider the following tips:
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Need Help? 1-800-355-0557
Mon-Fri 9:00-5:00 EST