Treat Your Airways
Obviously, relaxing your airways is first and foremost when you’re in the middle of an asthma attack, and that will take a few steps. Stay calm, and follow this plan of action:
Measure Your Breath
If you use a peak flow meter at home, you can breathe into it at the first sign of your attack to see how your lungs are managing. If you are having an asthma attack, the reading will be below your personal best; if the value is less than half your best, you’re having a severe attack.
Measure again after you take your fast-acting asthma inhaler to see how well the medicine is working (or how severe the attack is).
Take Your Rescue Medication Properly
Resist the temptation to take too much medication too soon. Start with two puffs of your quick-acting bronchodilator. If the episode is sudden and very severe, you can safely use up to four puffs at once. If the attack continues, you can continue to take a puff every 20 minutes for up to two hours, but the more you take, the more likely you are to feel a bit jittery.
Fight the Inflammation With Corticosteroids
Your rescue inhaler will ease the muscle constriction around your airways, but you’ll also need to relieve the tissue inflammation and mucus buildup on the inside, which calls for a dose of corticosteroids. An inhaled corticosteroid is likely enough to manage a mild to moderate asthma attack, but a severe attack will normally call for prednisone tablets.
Sit up and Stay Focused
It’s important that you sit upright and concentrate on steady breathing – this will keep you focused on getting enough air into your airways as the inhaled medication does its job. The straighter you sit, the better your lungs can take in air, so avoid laying down or hunching over.
If you don’t feel better after taking your inhaler, or you get worried at any time, call an ambulance. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.