What to Do During a Severe Asthma Attack


Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN

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In the United States, one in 13 people has asthma, a lung disease that causes coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, and breathlessness. While many have mild symptoms that are easy to control, you may experience frequent severe asthma attacks, or uncontrollable symptoms, that are frightening and unpredictable. This severe form of asthma can make breathing difficult on a daily basis. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to keep your symptoms from turning into a crisis.

The exact cause of asthma isn’t known, but certain factors make it more likely you’ll develop the condition and experience asthma attacks. You could be more likely to have asthma if your parents have the condition or if you had certain allergies or respiratory infections in childhood. Regardless of the cause of your asthma, severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening. But with your doctor’s help, you can make an asthma action plan to help recognize asthma attacks early and receive the help you need.

When asthma doesn't respond to consistent treatment, it's considered severe asthma. Watch this video for more severe asthma facts.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: May 12, 2017

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