Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Editorial Board: Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Handle Asthma Attack

Asthma Attack – Flare Up

An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of your asthma symptoms caused by narrowing of your airways or bronchoconstriction ( – is the constriction of the airways in the lungs due to the tightening of surrounding smooth muscle, with consequent coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Bronchoconstriction can also be due to an accumulation of thick mucus) Both you and your child need to: 
  1. Keep track the asthma care plan
  2. Identify your symptoms
  3. Check your peak flow reading
  4. Identify your medications
  5. Recognize Early Warning Signs
  6. Identify Indications or signs For Emergency Care

Asthma Care Plan – Prevent an Asthma Attack:-

People who have asthma, an asthma care plan is important to prevent worsening of your symptoms and an asthma attack. The asthma care plan( https://whatasthmais.com/asthma-action-plan/) is your guide to determining how well your asthma is controlled and what actions need to be taken when asthma worsens or when you develop symptoms of an asthma attack. With your input, your doctor will develop your asthma care plan. Most plans have three stages: 
  1. Severity -check with a Peak Flow monitor
  2. Knowing your symptoms
  3. Identify actions to take based on peak flow reading or symptoms
Make sure you understand the plan and do not be afraid to ask your doctor questions. Make sure any other caregivers and his/ her school(children) understand the asthma care plan as well.

Asthma and Asthma Attack Symptoms:

All asthmatics are different. Some people will have always attacks while others may go a long period between attacks. One need to monitor their asthma symptoms like chest tightness,wheezing,shortness of breath, and chronic cough. The action plan that you and your child’s medical care provider have developed will list how to treat asthma symptoms.

Peak Flow:-

A peak flow monitor is the key to determining how your asthma is doing and preventing an asthma attack. Peak flow tells you how well you are breathing and its use is a main part of the asthma care plan.

If peak flow readings are declining, it means your asthma is getting worse and you need to act quickly to prevent an asthma attack. You need to take or give(children) medications based on the instructions in the asthma care plan to stop the symptoms from getting more severe and leading to an asthma attack.


Knowing the purpose of each medication for asthma treatment are very essential because some medications are designed for the acute relief of asthma symptoms and an asthma attack and some for the long term control of asthma. Taking a long-term beta agonist control medication during an acute asthma attack can actually lead to worsening of the asthma.

Importantly asthma care plan will outline which specific medications to take depending on peak flow and other symptoms.

Signs of Worsening Asthma and an Asthma Attack:

Asthma Zones -Which zone are you?

Parent of a child with asthma or someone with asthma or you yourself must know that it is very important that you recognize and treat the prior warning signs of an asthma attack.

Generally, prior warning signs of worsening asthma and an asthma attack include: 

  1. Drop in peak flow rate
  2. Increased in coughing
  3. Wheezing
  4. Chest tightness
  5. Minor difficulties performing normal daily activities
  6. Other factors you may discover over time, that shows signs of worsening asthma or an asthma attack
With the above symptoms you will likely be in the yellow zone (Caution) of the asthma care plan.Based on your asthma care plan, follow the instructions about taking extra doses of quick-relief medications and initiating other treatments like a course of oral corticosteroids (check details on the above medication link).The asthma care plan will have instructions regarding how to proceed and when to call your doctor,as the plan was set-up by you.(refer to the action care plan)

Most of the time when symptoms are identified and treated in advance, you will notice a prompt improvement in both peak flow and symptoms. Nevertheless, you need to be prepared if your symptoms don’t improve.

Make sure you discuss your asthma care plan with your health care professionals. If you or your child is always needing to step up asthma treatment because of symptoms or worsening peak flows, or frequent asthma attacks, this is a sign of poor control and therefore adjustments to the plan may be needed further.

Emergency Care:-

As an asthmatic patient or a parent of a child with asthma,one need to know the important on when you need to call your doctor or to go straight to the emergency department.

The below symptoms are indications that you or your child needs to seek a healthcare professional for emergency care immediately: 

  1. Wheezing that happens while breathing in and out
  2. Continuous coughing
  3. Difficulty in breathing
  4. Tachypnea ( Abnormally rapid breathing) or breathing very fast
  5. The act of pulling, holding or drawing a part back; where your skin is pulled in as you breath
  6. Shortness of breath
  7. Difficulty in talking and completing sentences
  8. Becoming pale
  9. Becoming anxious
  10. Blue lips or fingernails
Once the asthmatics have any of the above symptoms[normal plus abnormal severe symptoms], they are in the red zone (DANGER) of the asthma care plan and one should begin following those instructions immediately in the plan, which should also include consulting a healthcare professionals or a doctor. Make sure that you keep your emergency numbers and details of who to contact in an emergency situation in an easily identifiable place in your phone.Always carry this information with you always.

Asthma Zones

Early recognition and action of an asthma attack and worsening asthma symptoms will prevent complications and the frequent visits to your doctor.So be in the Green Zone – for a HEALTHY LIFE.