Our existence depends on breath – and an acute asthma attack can make it almost impossible to breathe. No wonder these attacks are so scary for both the affected person and for onlookers.
Knowing the basics of asthma treatment is essential when trying to help someone experiencing an attack.
Maybe you are having dinner with a friend and all of a sudden, she looks panic stricken and gasps for breath. Or depending on your children's friends have come over to your house and your daughter screams that her best friend can not breathe.
Do you know how to deal with these situations? If you are able to provide the right asthma treatment, it may possibly save someone's life.
Here are key facts you should know.
* During a bout of asthma, patients find it easier to breathe while sitting up than lying down. So help them get into a comfortable sitting position.
* Most asthma patients know what they need to do to deal with an attack. So it is best to ask them. Ask if they have an inhaler and where it is. If they do not have one, ask them if you should call for help.
Many asthma patients carry not only an inhaler, but a written instruction card as well. An asthma attack can temporarily rob the patient of his ability to speak.
In such situations, an instruction card explaining what needs to be done can be invaluable. If there is such a card, just do as it says.
* Help them use the inhaler. An inhaler is designed to deliver a specific dose of asthma medication. The medication relaxes the patient's airways and helps restore normal breathing.
Medication is so important that in case the patient does not have his or her inhaler available, most doctors say that it is OK to use someone else's. Nothing else you can do has nearly the same effect as taking the right medication.
In general, you should give two to four puffs of the inhaler and then wait for about five minutes for the next dose.
Position the mouthpiece of the inhaler between the patient's lips. Let him know when you are about to give a puff so that he can breathe in at the same time.
Wait for several seconds before you deliver another puff. Or until he lets you know he is ready for the next one.
You can use a spacer to help the person inhale the medicine over the course of several breaths, instead of one breath. This device sits between the inhaler and the person's mouth and can hold the medicine in place between breaths.
If a spacer is not available, you can make one by rolling up some paper to create a tube.
* Once you've given medication, observe the patient for several minutes. Is it getting easier for him to breathe?
* If it appears that they are not responding to the medication within ten minutes, call an ambulance. And continue to deliver about four puffs of medication every five minutes while waiting for the ambulance.
The medication will help prevent the asthma attack from getting worse even if it does not seem to provide immediate relief.
* Stay calm through the episode. This will help the patient remain calm as well. If he panics, it will worsen the asthma attack and make it far more difficult for him to breathe.
So talk to him calmly, to reinvigorate the feeling that everything is under control. This is vitally important.
Being aware of these asthma treatment basics will help you deal effectively with many emergency situations.