Asthma is a disease of the respiratory system. People who have asthma sometimes have trouble breathing. When people who have asthma have this trouble breathing, it is called an asthma attack. Lots of people have asthma attacks and they are aggravated during winter.
Why does asthma occur and what happens during an asthma attack?
When most of us breathe, the muscles that are wrapped around the air tubes (airways) are very loose and relaxed, and the lining inside the airways is very thin. This lets the airways open up very wide so that it is easy to get air in and out of the small air sacs that make up our lungs. These small sacs are called alveoli. The muscles that are wrapped around the airways are very thin and loose, and the airway is wide open. This makes it easy to move air in and out of the air sacs
During an asthma attack, the muscles around the airways tighten, or “spasm” and the lining inside the airways swell or thicken, and get clogged with lots of thick mucous. This makes the airways much skinnier than usual so it is harder to move air in and out of the air sacs. This makes it hard to breathe!
During an asthma attack, it is actually harder to breathe out than it is to breathe in. This means that during an asthma attack, it takes much longer to breathe out (expire) than it does to breathe in (inspire)
Since it is so hard to breathe out during an asthma attack, more and more air gets trapped inside the lungs making it feel like one cannot breathe in or out!
What causes asthma attacks?
Lots of different things can cause an asthma attack. Something that causes an asthma attack is called a trigger. Some common triggers of asthma attacks are:
*Infections like colds or bronchitis
*Changes in the weather (from mild to cold)
What does it feel like to have an asthma attack?
Everybody does not feel the same things when they have an asthma attack.
*Sometimes during an asthma attack, people will cough and cough and cough,
*Sometimes people feel like they cannot catch their breath,
*Sometimes people feel like air is trapped in their lungs and they cannot get it out,
*Sometimes they have pain in their chest,
*Sometimes during an asthma attack, they have very noisy breathing,
How do doctors help make asthma better?
There are many different medicines that doctors may use to help people with asthma. Some medicines are swallowed (pills or liquids), some medicines are inhaled (breathed in through your mouth or nose), and some medicines are injected (given as a shot in one of your muscles or veins). For most people, inhaled medicines are used first because they start working very fast (usually in less than five minutes!) and they don’t have too many side effects. This is because inhaled medicines go right into the lungs and not into other parts of the body.
How to use an inhaler properly
The main problem using inhaler is its improper use. People often do mistake using inhaler and they don’t get actual result. Sometimes many people give up inhaling for the time being and the condition become worsen.
Using a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) seems simple, but most patients do not use it the right way. When you use the MDI the wrong way, less medicine gets to your lungs.
The following steps can help using inhaler in proper way.
*Take off the cap and shake the inhaler hard.
*Breathe out all the way.
*Hold the inhaler 1 to 2 inches in front of your mouth (about the width of two fingers). Alternatively, place the MDI into a spacer and insert the spacer into your mouth.
Breath in slowly
*Start breathing in slowly through your mouth, and then press down on the inhaler one time. (If you use a spacer, first press down on the inhaler. Within 5 seconds, begin to breathe in slowly.)
*Keep breathing in slowly, as deeply as you can.
Hold your breath
*Hold your breath as you count to 10 slowly, if you can. This lets the medicine reach deep into your lungs.
*For inhaled quick-relief medicine (beta-agonists), wait about one minute between puffs. There is no need to wait between puffs for other medicines.
*Rinse your mouth afterward, to help reduce unwanted side effects.
Clean your inhaler as needed
Look at the hole where the medicine sprays out from your inhaler. If you see powder in or around the hole, clean the inhaler. Remove the metal canister from the L-shaped plastic mouthpiece. Rinse only the mouthpiece and cap in warm water. Let them dry overnight. In the morning, put the canister back inside. Put the cap on.
Replacing your inhaler
For control medicines you take each day, write the date you need to replace it on the canister.
For example, say your new canister has 200 puffs (number of puffs is listed on canister) and you are told to take 8 puffs per day. This canister will last 25 days. If you started using this inhaler on May 1, replace it on or before May 25. Write the date on your canister.
Don’t put your canister in water to see if it is empty. This does not work.
Children and inhalers
Young children may not be able to control their breathing enough to use a metered dose inhaler. A spacer can help. It is a chamber with a mouth piece that attaches to the inhaler. Once the medication is released, the spacer holds it until the child takes a breathe and inhales it. Other alternatives are to give the medication by mouth if it comes that way or to give it by a nebulizer.
Store your metered dose inhaler at room temperature. It may not work well if it is too cold. The contents of the canister are under pressure. So, do not get it too hot or puncture it.
Clean your inhaler the way the package insert tells you to.