Those who have been diagnosed with asthma are no strangers to the acute attacks that can come with just a moment’s notice. But whether it’s the first attack or the fiftieth, they always cause fear and anxiety, both for the person going through the attack and whomever is with them at the time. At least the asthma sufferer can understand what it feels like, and gauge the difference between a slight flare-up and a full blown asthma attack. If you don’t have much experience in these situations, seeing it happen to someone you love could set you off in a debilitating panic. You’re going to have to keep calm, and lend a hand whenever possible. But what can be done? Here are five tips for helping someone suffering an asthma attack.
The easiest pathway to relief from an asthma attack is to use an inhaler. If the asthma sufferer has a decently severe case of the ailment, chances are he carries an inhaler around wherever he goes. Give him a hand locating it, if it’s not on his person. You don’t want someone fumbling around in a bag in the middle of an attack. Once the inhaler is found, help him get a full blast of the medicine. His airways should quickly relax and come back to normal. If there’s no inhaler present, there will be other things you can do to help. But don’t be afraid to call 911. Things can get serious, and you’re always better off safe than sorry.
You can also help coach the asthma sufferer into calmer breathing patterns. Panic in these situations will only make the situation worse, so by remaining relaxed yourself and coaching them through some simple techniques you can possibly help the asthma attack end quickly. Tell him to breath slowly and evenly, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Rub his back for him while he works through the worst of it. Slow, steady breathing should help loosen his chest and insure he gets a relaxed flow of air.
Next, make sure your friend is in the right position. Laying down on his back will never be a good idea, and can actually stress the lungs further. The best position is either seated on a chair with back straight, or cross-legged on the floor. You can also have him lean forward, either onto the top of a table or across your shoulders. If he is still struggling to get air, pull his arms up so his hands sit well above his head. This will help increase air flow.
If things aren’t going well, consider getting the asthma sufferer moved to a new location. Some triggers of an asthma attack can be floating in the air. Things like cigarette smoke, animals or a fresh coat of paint in close proximity or too much dust in the vicinity can all bring on an attack or make it worse. Look around for a location with better air quality, and get your friend there immediately.
Finally, look for fluids that will help. Dehydration can trigger asthma attacks, so give him a drink of water. A few sips of coffee could also help. If you’ve had any amount of first aid trainingfollow, you’ll know that caffeine works to open your airways. Anything warm will actually relax the throat muscles and open things up further. In the Queensland first aidfollow course they teach the benefits of water vapor inhalation as well. If you have a kettle handle, get some water steaming and have the asthma sufferer breath that in. The end result will be open air passageways and an end to the asthma attack.