Despite the fact that asthma is a fairly common disease (25 million people in the United States have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), only 20 percent of sufferers experience frequent asthma attacks. At least once in their lifetime, though, those who suffer from asthma will likely experience an asthma attack. “About 20 percent of asthmatics have frequent attacks — but certainly not all asthmatics do,” allergy and immunology specialist Robert Sporter, told InStyle. “I’d say most asthmatics probably have at least one in their life.”
In general, an asthma attack can be triggered by tobacco smoke, dust mites, outdoor air pollution, pests like cockroaches and mice, pets, and mold. In rarer cases, asthma attacks can also be caused by sinus infections; allergies; pollen; physical exercise; bad weather (like thunderstorms and high humidity); breathing in cold, dry air; and strong emotions that lead to rapid breathing. Depending on the severity of each person’s asthma diagnosis, an asthma attack can last mere seconds or stretch on for days (per the CDC).
Just as the triggers of an asthma attack are varied, the symptoms associated with an asthma attack can range wildly.
Paying close attention to the details could save your life
Typically, an asthma attack presents a heightened version of symptoms already experienced by asthma sufferers, like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and general tightness of the chest. The more unusual symptoms, like difficulty sleeping, daytime fatigue, an itchy face and throat, anxiety, and moodiness, are often overlooked since they are not typically linked to asthma attacks. In fact, anxiety and asthma attacks are linked to one another more often than you might think, since experiencing an asthma attack can also bring on anxiety. “While asthma symptoms are largely physical, it’s possible to experience effects to your mood, too,” said Healthline. “Long-term anxiety may also trigger your asthma, creating a cycle that’s hard to break.”
If you are experiencing an asthma attack, the United Kingdom National Health Service recommends sitting upright and using an inhaler to open the airways. If you do not have an inhaler, it is in your best interest to call emergency services to come and assist you. Within 48 hours of your asthma attack, you should make it a priority to see a doctor who can reassess your current treatment methods, as an asthma attack can point to the fact that current medications or treatments are simply not doing the trick.
Though they can be traumatic for many, a plethora of medication and treatment options make it possible to find a way to combat asthma attacks for good.
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