How to deal with an asthma attack
- for immediate relief, use a bronchodilator (albuterol or xopenex) to “open” the bronchial passages and repeat every 4-6 hours
- to calm the immune response, use a steroid (an oral steroid or inhaled form), and continue it for the next five days
- if an environmental trigger caused the asthma flare, remove your child from the irritant. Most asthma episodes in children are triggered by respiratory viruses, but airborne allergens, like pets or second hand smoke, can worsen wheezing.
- If your child is not improving with the bronchodilator and steroid, you need to take your child to the doctor or emergency room for further treatment.
In the days after an asthma flare:
- avoid air irritants (aerosol sprays, animals, smoke, strong perfumes, dusty places) for at least 10-14 days
- avoid blasts of cold, dry air, wear a scarf over your nose/mouth when outdoors in cold weather
- drink warm or room temperature fluids, especially those with vitamin C
- tea is beneficial (rose hip tea helps decrease phlegm and ceylon teas contain minute amounts of the bronchodilator, theophylline)
- phase out the bronchodilator as wheezing subsides (usually over a couple of days)
- phase out the anti-inflammatory (inhaled or liquid steroid) over three to five days
- if symptoms worsen, fevers arise, or there’s no improvement, it is important to see the doctor again.
- a preventative medicine like Intal or a leukotriene inhibitor might be started if there have been recurrent bouts of it or if it was a particularly severe asthma attack.
It takes a while for people to learn about asthma and become familiar with the symptoms and various medications. It’s important to ask questions and try to learn as much as you can. The majority of young children outgrow asthma, or have episodes that are fewer and farther between. Lots of research is being done on asthma. In the years to come, we can expect new medications with fewer side effects. We will also know more about asthma’s causes and prevention.