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What to do if an Asthma Attack occurs?

An asthma attack normally doesn't occur suddenly; most people find that asthma attacks are the result of a gradual worsening of symptoms over a few days.  If your symptoms are getting worse, do not ignore them.  Quite often using your reliever may be all that is needed to get your asthma under control again.  At other times symptoms are more severe and more urgent action is required.

The Five Step Rule

The Five Step Rule contains the recommended steps to follow in an asthma attack

  1. Ensure the reliever inhaler is taken immediately.  This is usually blue and opens up narrowed air passages.
  2. Sit down and loosen tight clothing.
  3. Stay calm.  Attacks may be frightening and it is important to stay calm.
  4. If there is no immediate improvement continue to take the reliever inhaler every minute for five minutes or until symptoms improve: two puffs if MDI/evohaler or one puff if turbohaler.
  5. If symptoms do not improve in five minutes, or if you are in doubt, call 999 or a doctor urgently. Continue to give reliever inhaler until help arrives or symptoms improve.

Do not be afraid of causing a fuss, even at night.

 

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The following tests may be performed by your doctor to confirm the correct diagnosis.

  1. Spirometry is a simple breathing test that gives measurements of lung function including a reversibility test that measures lung function before and after a dose of reliever to see if it has improved your lung function. This can be helpful with asthma diagnosis.
  2. Peak Expiratory flow rate measurements (PEFR); another simple breathing test which may be measured over a period of time, when one has symptoms or even when symptom free, performed in a GP surgery, hospital and even at home.
  3. An exercise test to check if exercise worsens your symptoms.