5 Things to Do When Asthma Attack Without an Inhaler
- Sit up straight
- Remain calm
- Steady your breathing
- Remove triggers
- Call 911
What is an asthma attack?
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the lungs. During an asthma attack, the airways become narrower than normal and can cause difficulty breathing.
The severity of an asthma attack can range from mild to very serious. Some asthma attacks may require prompt medical attention.
The preferred way of treating an asthma attack is to use a rescue inhaler, which contains medication that expands your airways.
But what if you’re having an asthma attack and don’t have your rescue inhaler available? There are several things that you can do while you wait for your symptoms to subside or for medical attention. Read on to learn more.
Sitting upright can help keep your airways open. Be sure to avoid lying down while you’re having an asthma attack, as this can make symptoms worse.
Try to remain as calm as you can while you’re having an asthma attack. Panic and stress can worsen your symptoms.
While you wait for your symptoms to subside or for medical attention to arrive, it may be helpful to turn on the TV or play some music to help keep yourself calm.
Try to take slow, steady breaths during your attack.
Additionally, some breathing exercises may also help reduce asthma symptoms. Some examples include:
- the Buteyko breathing technique, which involves breathing slowly through your nose as opposed to your mouth
- the Papworth method, which entails using your diaphragm and nose to breathe in a particular way
- yoga breathing techniques, which can include deep breathing or control of posture
A 2013 review of studies found that in some cases, breathing exercises were associated with improvement of asthma symptoms.
The presence of asthma triggers won’t only cause an attack, they can also make your symptoms worse. Be sure to try to get away from things that may be triggering your asthma attack.
For example, if you’re in an area where people are smoking cigarettes, you should move away promptly.
It’s also important to know your triggers. Common triggers include:
- allergens, such as pet dander, pollen, or certain foods
- irritants, such as tobacco smoke or pollution
- stress or anxiety
- some medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or beta-blockers
- respiratory infections, such as the common cold, the flu, or mycoplasma
- breathing in cold, dry air
You should always be sure to seek immediate emergency medical treatment if you experience any of the following symptoms during an asthma attack:
- your symptoms continue to get worse even after treatment
- you can’t speak except in short words or phrases
- you’re straining your chest muscles in an effort to breathe
- your shortness of breath or wheezing is severe, particularly in the early morning or late-night hours
- you begin to feel drowsy or tired
- your lips or face appear blue when you’re not coughing