Asthma: St John Ambulance explain how to help during attack
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The star, who has worked closely on numerous occasions with actor Robert De Niro, sadly found himself struggling to cope with the pressures of the industry, and soon the repercussions of drug abuse finally caught up with him. Scorsese has admitted himself that he hit rock bottom after wrapping up production on the 1977 musical drama New York New York, which starred De Niro and Liza Minnelli. Only 35 at the time, suddenly one day the star’s body nearly shut down, a near-fatal combination of the effects of drugs, sickness and a hectic work schedule.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter back in 2016 about the tough time, Scorsese said: “After finishing New York, New York, I took chances.”
The star continued to honestly address the issues he was facing at the time, saying that he was “out of time and out of place” on drugs.
“Also in turmoil in my own life and embracing the other world, so to speak, with a kind of attraction to the dangerous side of existence.
“Then on Labor Day weekend, I found myself in a hospital, surprised that I was near death.”
Suffering from asthma since he was a child, the star was also having to deal with issues that the lung condition caused for him.
Speaking more about the causes of his scrape with death, Scorsese elaborated to say: “A number of things had happened.
“Misuse of normal medications in combinations [to which] my body reacted in strange ways. I was down to about 109 pounds. It wasn’t only drug-induced — asthma had a lot to do with it.
“I was kept in a hospital for 10 days and nights, and they took care of me, these doctors, and I became aware of not wanting to die and not wasting [my life].
“If I prayed, it was just to get through those 10 days and nights. I felt [if I was saved] it was for some reason. And even if it wasn’t for a reason, I had to make good use of it.”
After coming so close to death, Scorsese came to almost a biblical realisation surrounding not only his own life, but the world around him. He added: “I was blind, and now I can see.”
Remarkably, this ordeal from the 1970s is not the only time Scorsese’s asthma has caused trouble for his health.
According to a report by La Civiltà Cattolica, a Catholic publication, Scorsese opened up about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on his asthma, and how lockdown caused him a great sense of anxiety.
Reportedly the star commented: “When I realized that everything was coming to a stop — a “pause,” as they said — and that my wife and I were going to have to quarantine and stay in the house for an indefinite period of time, anxiety set in. A new form of anxiety.
“The anxiety deepened, and with it the realization that I might not get out of this alive. I’ve had asthma throughout my life, and this is a virus that seems to attack the lungs more commonly than any other part of the body.
“I came to realize that I could very well be taking my last breath in this room in my home, which had been a refuge and which now became a kind of fortress, and was starting to feel like my prison. Here we were, suddenly living with the realization that the very air around us, the air that sustains us, could kill us.”
Similarly to his prolonged hospitalisation earlier in his career, Scorsese was able to take the positives out of the pandemic. He continued to add that the sense of togetherness individuals all over the world focused on was a huge benefit.
The NHS explains that asthma causes occasional breathing difficulties. Affecting people of all ages, the condition can be tricky as there are currently no cures.
The main symptoms of asthma are:
- A whistling sound when breathing (wheezing)
- A tight chest, which may feel like a band is tightening around it
Sometimes a sudden worsening of symptoms can cause an asthma attack, which are known to kill at least three people in the UK each day. During an asthma attack, individuals find that their inhaler does not help, they are unable to speak, eat or sleep and they cannot seem to catch a breath.
The NHS explains the steps to take if you think you are having an asthma attack:
- Sit upright (do not lie down) and try to take slow, steady breaths. Try to remain calm, as panicking will make things worse.
- Take one puff of your reliever inhaler (usually blue) every 30 to 60 seconds, up to a maximum of 10 puffs.
- Call 999 for an ambulance if you do not have your inhaler with you, you feel worse despite using your inhaler, you do not feel better after taking 10 puffs or you’re worried at any point.
- If the ambulance has not arrived within 15 minutes, repeat step two.
Typical treatments that help to control asthma mainly involve inhalers. The two main types of inhaler include reliever inhalers-used when needed to quickly relieve asthma symptoms for a short time- and preventer inhalers- which are used every day to prevent symptoms from occurring.
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