The Sneeze

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Severe Asthma Attack?

February 24, 2022

Written By:

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Severe Asthma Attack?

Whether you have asthma or a loved one, a child, or someone else close to you has asthma, knowing the signs and symptoms of a severe asthma attack is very important. Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening if they're not treated right away at the ER.

But how do you know when an asthma attack is severe? In this blog from Premier Allergy & Asthma, we’ll discuss some of the signs and symptoms that you should watch out for, and how you can identify a severe asthma attack that demands immediate care from a medical professional.

Severe Breathlessness Or Wheezing

If you are feeling extremely out of breath and are wheezing uncontrollably, this is a sure sign of a serious asthma attack. More minor asthma attacks may cause some shortness of breath and wheezing, but these are often resolved within a few minutes. If your breathlessness or wheezing continues to get worse, you need to get help right away.

Inability To Speak More Than Short Phrases

During a minor asthma attack, speaking normally or semi-normally may be difficult, but it’s usually still possible to speak in complete sentences. During a severe asthma attack, this is not the case. You may only be able to say a few words or short phrases before having to gasp for breath. This is a sure sign of a serious asthma attack.

Straining The Chest Muscles To Breathe

If your chest muscles are feeling strained and tired, this is a sign of a severe asthma attack. Your muscles are working overtime to try to get air to your lungs, and it’s not working because of the narrowing of your airway and overproduction of mucus. If it feels like you’re straining your muscles just to breathe, this is a serious asthma attack.

Low Peak Flow Readings With A Peak Flow Meter

If you have asthma or a loved one does, a peak flow meter is a good thing to have on-hand. This tool measures the flow of air from your lungs, and helps you identify diminished lung function.

Most peak flow meters have a “Green” zone at 100% to 80% of your best peak flow reading. “Yellow” is from 80% to 50% of your personal best. And “Red” is below 50%. A yellow reading means that you may be having a minor asthma attack. If you’re in the red, you are having a very serious asthma attack, and need to get medical attention immediately.

No Improvement After Using A Rescue Inhaler

Rescue inhalers contain “bronchodilators.” These are medicines that help open up your airway and allow you to breathe normally after an asthma attack. Most minor-to-moderate asthma attacks can be resolved with a rescue inhaler.

With an inhaler, your symptoms usually will be resolved within 15-20 minutes, and the medicine will continue to work for about 4-6 hours. But if the inhaler has minimal or no effect, this means you’re having a serious asthma attack. You should call 911 and get medical help immediately.

Get Help With Asthma Management At Premier Allergy & Asthma

It’s important to recognize serious asthma attacks in yourself or in loved ones. But it’s also important to identify triggers and common causes of asthma, take steps to reduce these triggers, manage your asthma or your loved one’s asthma more effectively.

That’s where Premier Allergy & Asthma comes in. Our Ohio allergy and asthma specialists can help you identify the causes and contributing factors of asthma, develop a plan to mitigate and avoid them, and reduce your risk of a serious asthma attack. To learn more and get the help you need in Central Ohio, just contact us. With offices located conveniently in Dublin, Westerville, Canal Winchester, Marysville, New Albany, and Hilliard, care is just a click away.