How to Stop an Asthma Attack?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 25 million Americans, or 7.7% of the population, have asthma. This guide is here to help you in an emergency if you or someone else is having an asthma attack.

How to Stop an Asthma Attack?

Usually, the fastest way to stop an asthma attack is with some form of quick-relief medication, like an inhaler. Inhalers work by relaxing the muscles around the airways and allowing them to open up. Unfortunately, there are cases when you can’t find your inhaler during an asthma attack. Here’s what to do.

What to Do for an Asthma Attack Without an Inhaler?

Knowing how to stop an asthma attack without an inhaler is key if you have an attack unexpectedly or happen to forget your inhaler. Here are some key tips for how to treat asthma without an inhaler:

  • Sit up straight to open your airways and avoid lying down or bending over.
  • Try to take long, slow, and deep breaths and focus on your breathing.
  • Try to remain as calm as possible – anxiety and stress can make it harder to breathe.
  • Move away from any trigger that could have caused your attack, like smoky or unclean air.
  • Have a warm drink, like a cup of coffee or tea, to help open the airways.
  • Contact a doctor if the symptoms persist or are severe, as they’ll be able to advise you on how to help with an asthma attack.

How to Stop Asthma Wheezing and Coughing Without an Inhaler?

In terms of how to relieve asthma without an inhaler and ease symptoms like coughing and wheezing, it’s generally best to remain as calm as you can, focus on breathing slowly through your nose and out of your mouth, and drink a warm drink.

Here’s a helpful video guide by Red Cross.

What to Do After an Asthma Attack?

Typically, after an attack, you may feel both physically and emotionally fatigued. You should try to rest and recuperate in the wake of your attack, which may mean taking some time off work or asking friends and family to help out at home. You should also continue to take your asthma medication as prescribed, but also let your doctor know about the attack. They may want to see you for a check-up or alter your prescription.

What Are the Symptoms of an Asthma Attack?

How do you know if you have asthma? The easiest way is to look for the symptoms. There are various signs and symptoms that you can use when you want to know how to tell if you have asthma, divided into the following mild, moderate, and severe categories:

Mild Symptoms

  • Wheezing, or a whistling sound while breathing
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • A tightening feeling in the chest

Moderate Symptoms

  • Being unable to eat, speak, or sleep due to breathlessness
  • Elevated heartbeat
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Exhaustion

Severe (Emergency) Symptoms

  • Persistent lack of breath
  • Severe wheezing and coughing
  • Blue lips
  • Fainting

What Happens During an Asthma Attack?

When an asthma attack begins, the muscles around the airways contract, which causes the airways to swell up and narrow. Excessive amounts of mucus are also secreted, which can block the small airways entirely and make the larger ones narrower. All of this makes it harder for air to pass through the passages of the respiratory symptom, making it difficult for the patient to breathe.

What Does an Asthma Attack Feel Like?

How does one know if they have asthma? An asthma attack may involve a range of symptoms like coughing and wheezing. You may feel like your breathing is becoming more difficult and your chest may feel tighter. You may also hear a kind of whistling sound as you breathe, and your breathing may become faster and harder as the attack progresses.

What Triggers Asthma Attacks?

There are multiple possible causes of ashtma to watch out for, including:

  • Allergies and exposure to allergens like pet hair or pollen.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals in the air.
  • Breathing in smoke.
  • High levels of pollution in the air or poor air quality.
  • Storms and high humidity levels.
  • Cold and dry air.
  • Certain foods.
  • Certain fragrances.
  • Excessive physical exercise.

How Can I Prevent Asthma Attacks?

There are several ways to prevent asthma attacks from occurring or to minimize your chances of having an attack, including the following:

  • Know Your Triggers – Every asthma patient has certain triggers that make them more likely to have an attack, like exposure to allergens or high levels of air pollution. By knowing and avoiding your triggers, you’ll find it much easier to know how to prevent asthma attacks.
  • Avoid Smoke and Allergens – Smoke and allergens can be very dangerous for people with asthma. Take steps to avoid these dangerous elements in your life. Ask people not to smoke around you.
  • Protect Your Home – There are certain measures you can take to make your home a safer place to be as an asthma patient, such as installing an air purifier system, banning any kind of smoking in the house, keeping the floors and surfaces clean, and so on.
  • Monitor Your Health – Many asthma patients are more likely to have attacks if they get a cold or other illnesses. To avoid this, try to stay healthy by eating well, getting your vaccinations, and avoiding close contact with those who are or have been ill recently.
  • Follow Your Doctor’s Guidance – Your doctor will help you create an asthma action plan, with key steps to follow to keep you safe. Follow their advice, including taking any medication they prescribe.

Here is another informative guide from AAFA.

Asthma Emergency FAQ

What Is an Asthma Attack?

An asthma attack, otherwise known as an asthma exacerbation, is when the airways of an asthma sufferer suddenly become inflamed and swollen, with extra mucus being produced. This makes it much harder to breathe. Typically, using an inhaler is the best way to stop an asthma attack.

Can You Develop Asthma?

Yes, it’s possible to develop asthma at any time in life. Many children can develop this condition, but it can also occur during adulthood at any stage and may appear quite suddenly and unexpectedly.

Is Asthma Genetic?

Scientists aren’t quite sure about the exact causes of asthma and how it develops, but studies have shown that people who have parents or siblings with asthma are more likely to get it themselves. However, it’s not certain that a child will get asthma just because one or both of their parents are asthmatic. [Source]

Can Asthma Go Away?

Studies have shown that it is possible for asthma to naturally go away. This is actually quite common for those who developed asthma while children; they may find that the symptoms fade as they get older, but there’s always a risk of asthma returning later in life.[Source]

How Is Asthma Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose asthma, doctors may carry out a physical exam as well as other tests. Typically, a lung or pulmonary function test will be needed, as well as possibly blood tests and chest X-rays. The doctor will also speak with the patient about their medical history and any symptoms they’ve been experiencing.

Do I Have Asthma?

When it comes to how to know if you have asthma, the best step is to speak with your doctor. Some of the signs of asthma include breathing difficulties like shortness of breath, as well as coughing, tightness in the chest, and a whistling or wheezing sound while you breathe.

Can You Develop Asthma After COVID?

Many people want to know can COVID cause asthma, and there have been cases of patients developing asthma after contracting COVID-19. COVID can cause scarring and damage to the lung, windpipe, and other parts of the respiratory system which could make conditions like asthma more likely to appear.

Can Asthma Kill You in Your Sleep?

While it is possible for asthma to cause death, it is rare for asthma to cause death during sleep. Most asthma-related deaths occur during waking hours when symptoms are more likely to be noticed and emergency treatment can be sought. However, in some cases, severe asthma attacks can occur during sleep and lead to death if not treated promptly.

How Common Is Asthma?

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases affecting millions of people around the world. It affects around 25 million people in the US, which equates to approximately 1 in every 13 people. It’s also worth noting that this condition is particularly common among black, Hispanic, and Native American individuals in the US.

How Many People Have Asthma?

The latest statistics show that around 25 million people in the US have asthma. Globally, it is estimated that around 300 million people suffer from asthma.

How Long Does an Asthma Attack Last?

The duration of asthma attacks may vary based on several factors like the cause of the attack, the severity of asthma, and the general health of the patient. Mild attacks can be over within a matter of minutes, especially with the aid of an inhaler. Attacks will typically last longer if you aren’t able to use an inhaler right away, and could last for several hours or even days in the most severe cases.

Can You Die From an Asthma Attack?

Yes, it is possible to die from an asthma attack. Statistically, approximately 4,000 people in the US die from asthma attacks each year. It is therefore relatively rare for people to die from these attacks, but it can happen, especially if the attack is allowed to proceed without treatment. With proper, timely treatment, asthma attacks should not be fatal, which is why it’s so important to always have an inhaler nearby. [Source]

Asthma Statistics


Asthma Emergency Resources

Scroll to Top