What Is Acute Asthma?


Acute asthma indicates a sudden onset of asthma. This onset can be very scary, especially if you are unfamiliar with the signs leading up to an attack. Triggers and prevention are key when dealing with acute asthma, so learning how to recognize and avoid attacks can save you a hospital visit.


Asthma is a chronic disease that affects millions of Americans. Attacks occur when airways are blocked or narrowed due to inflammation. Generally, asthma starts in childhood, but in recent years, a growing number of adults have been diagnosed with asthma.


Not everyone is prone to asthma. If you or your family have a history of asthma and/or allergies, it is more likely that you are susceptible to this disease. If you are unsure, it is best to get tested by your allergist. An acute asthma attack can be brought on by excessive exercise, but in most cases, allergens are the cause. Common asthma triggers are pet dander, dust, feathers, smoke and even harsh odors such as perfumes. Upper respiratory infections are also culprits for bringing on acute asthma attacks.


At the onset of an acute asthma attack, there is an immediate tightness in the chest. Breathing becomes very laborious, and wheezing and coughing often accompany the shortness of breath. If you cannot regain regular breathing on your own within a few minutes or do not get relief from your fast-acting inhaler, you should go to the hospital immediately.


Keeping your asthma under control can help prevent acute asthma attacks. Keep your indoor allergies at bay by using an air purifier and a Hepa filtered vacuum. Keep track of your lung function by using a peak flow meter. A peak flow meter measures your air flow, which will give you a good indication if you are in danger of an acute asthma attack.

Medical Treatments

There is no cure for asthma, so it is best to speak with your doctor about getting your symptoms under control to avoid acute attacks. If you use your fast-acting inhaler more than twice per week, it's time to take action. There are many preventative drugs available, including inhalers and oral medications, that your doctor can prescribe. In extreme cases, an oral steroid or at home nebulizer may be prescribed.

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