What is Asthma, and Who Does it Affect?
Asthma is a disease that affects the way a person breathes. Asthma triggers both constriction and inflammation of the airways and makes breathing difficult and painful. If no precautions and measures are taken, Asthma can be a life-threatening disease.
Asthma is more common among children because their airways haven’t been exposed to enough allergens to build immunity. According to the American Lung Association, “Asthma is the most common chronic condition among children, currently affecting an estimated 6.1 million children under 18 years, of which 3.5 million suffered from an asthma attack or episode in 2016”. Some children grow out of the disease when they have been exposed long enough to grow immunity. This doesn’t mean you don’t take precautions when an allergen or Asthma trigger is presented. For more information on managing asthma in your classroom, click here
Common Asthma Triggers
Asthma attacks are caused by exposure to particular Asthma triggers. Asthma triggers are different for everyone and can be one or multiple from the list below:
- Upper Respiratory Infections
- Allergens: dust, mold, or pollen
- Irritants: cigarette smoke, wood smoke, strong odors or perfumes
- Weather: cold air or changes in temperature
- Strong Displays of Emotion: Anxiety, crying, yelling, and laughing hard
Early Warning Signs
Signs are what you notice when an allergen or other trigger affects the person’s Asthma. Some are more severe than others, and it’s important to know the difference between early warning and emergency symptoms so you can know what to do when an Asthma attack happens.
Here are some of the Early Warning signs:
- Changes in breathing
- Usual paleness or sweating
- Hunched over body posture
- Glassy look to eyes
- Heart beating faster
Emergency signs for Asthma attacks require either medical attention or 911 immediately. Here’s what to do for each.
Get Medical Attention If:
- Wheeze, cough, or shortness of breath gets worse, even after medication
- The chest and neck are pulled or sucked in with each breath.
Call 911 Immediately If:
- Trouble walking or talking
- Lips or fingernails are grey or blue
Anytime Asthma attack signs are present, treatment should be given. Treatment might look slightly different based on your facility’s protocol, but typically, you would administer medication in the form of an inhaler or a nebulizer. A spacer is recommended when administering medication through these two forms because it holds the medicine in place, so you can breathe it straight into your lungs. Without a spacer, the medication typically ends up in your mouth or stomach instead of your lungs.
First Response is dedicated to the health and well-being of all people. We teach about Asthma, Asthma triggers, signs, and different types of inhalers in our CPR and First Aid Courses. Learn more about how to sign up for our First Aid courses here.