That is a scary thought!  If you stopped breathing from an asthma attack, you would pass out.  But you don’t want to ever let that happen.  So, be prepared.  Have a plan in mind about what to do if you start to have difficulty breathing.  We call that your “asthma action plan.”  Different people with asthma have different plans in place to deal with the beginnings of an asthma attack.  Here are some of the things that people with asthma do to prevent their asthma from getting to the point of stopping breathing.

  • Take your quick-acting bronchodilator medication (like albuterol) frequently, up to 4 puffs every 30 minutes, for 2 or 3 doses.
  • Start or increase your “controller” medication, an inhaled steroid such as fluticasone (Flovent) or budesonide (Pulmicort).
  • Take steroid pills or liquid, like prednisone, prednisolone, or methylprednisolone.
  • Contact your doctor or other medical provider.
  • Go to an urgent care facility or emergency department of a nearby hospital.
  • Call for emergency help (in the U.S., dial “911”).

A wise asthma doctor once said, “The best time to treat a very severe asthma attack is 3 days before it begins.”  What he meant, I think, is that there are usually early warning signs that your asthma is getting worse.  Rather than waiting until an attack becomes very severe, take action early to prevent it from getting to a dangerous point.

Question submitted by Liadh, age 11 via News-O-Matic