All of us asthmatics have been there, with an impending asthma attack and wondering what to do. Everything is normal and then suddenly you feel a slight constriction in your throat or perhaps a dry phlegm that’s hard to pass. It’s the tell tale sign of an impending asthma attack.
When this happens, some asthmatics panic, and others will casually reach for their rescue puffer. But what’s the best thing to do when an asthma attack strikes? The answer is easy but takes some discipline.
There are steps you can take to first assess the severity of your attack and then decide the appropriate course of action. So take a deep breath, don’t panic and try to relax while you take stock of your symptoms.
First and most important, how bad is your breathing right now?
If you can barely take a breath and are starting to feel light headed, you need to take your emergency rescue puffer as soon as possible. If you don’t have a rescue puffer on hand, you need to seek immediate medical help.
Don’t be a hero. Use your best judgement and seek professional help as soon as you feel you need it.
Otherwise, read on. These steps could change how you treat an asthma attack – and the rest of your life, too.
Asthma Attack Strategy
Sit up or stand up straight. Don’t slouch or lie down, as this can restrict your breathing even further. The goal is to normalize your breathing as quickly as possible and to pass whatever mucus or phlegm is blocking your airways.
While sitting upright, work to control your breathing.
I’ve spoken a lot about the importance of correct breathing in controlling asthma. It doesn’t have to be an integrated breathing methodology like Buteyko (although it has helped me). It can be as simple as easy meditation techniques. Light yoga is also a great way to quickly get your breathing back on track.
Whatever you do, the goal is to be taking long deep breaths and to avoid hyperventilation. Hyperventilating will start a feedback loop where you’re getting more and more agitated, causing more hyperventilating, which in turn causes more agitation leading to a greater feeling of being out of breath. Talk about a bummer.
Similarly to the last point, stay calm! Don’t worry, every asthma attack eventually passes—either on its own or through medical intervention. It’s easy to convince yourself that your asthma attack is going to last the rest of your life – but that’s never going to be the case.
Plus, if you make lifestyle improvements you’ll experience fewer asthma attacks with less severe symptoms. Here’s 5 easy steps I took to get off albuterol, and see my secret weapon against asthma attacks here.
And don’t miss my guide to the home remedies for asthma that actually work.
Make sure you’re getting cool, fresh air. Open a window, step outside, turn fans on and open the doors.
If you’ve ever pulled your bed-sheets over your head at night, you know that stale air eventually leads to feeling short of breath. This is very similar to the feelings of an asthma attack, so you want to make sure what little air you’re able to breath during an attack is clean, fresh and cool.
Likewise, if the air inside or outside of your home is not clean, the air you breath will not be clean. So you might want to consider purchasing an air filter. They’re not very expensive and they really work.
Have some tea or another kind of hot, steaming drink. Not only will the caffeine help to open up your your airways, the steam and mist will moisten the phlegm or mucus and get you breathing better again.
Herbal tea is my personal favorite drink and there are also loads of other great asthma benefits to drinking it. Just be sure to find something that you like and will actually want to drink – this should be an enjoyable ritual that helps to relax you, too.
If you don’t know where to get started, here’s my 3 favorite teas for asthma.
And here’s a pro-tip: I like to lean my head over my hot mug and deeply inhale the steam. Such a relief. If you find this helps, you might want to also run a hot shower and sit in the bathroom while you inhale the steam.
If you’re followed all the steps above, you should be a little more relaxed and hopefully breathing a bit better as well. You may be able to sit through the attack until it passes, without taking your rescue inhaler. If you can, consider yourself a healthier asthmatic than you were before.
I’ve written about the benefits of cutting your rescue inhaler usage, as well as the dangers of over-usage – learn more here. I’m living proof – if you’re willing to do a little work and change your lifestyle even just a little bit, you can start to see dramatic improvements in your asthma.
I’ve had asthma all my life, but today, I’m proud to say that it no longer controls my life or causes me stress. So I hope you’re join me in my asthma journey and start breathing better, too!