Asthma patients should always ensure they carry their inhaler, but it’s not an uncommon situation to have lost your inhaler or run out of doses and be unable to get access to one in the area you are in. Luckily, there are a few work-arounds for such a situation which begins with detecting your symptoms before time and preparing yourself.
Symptoms of an asthma attack
Asthma attacks may begin with mild coughing but may quickly progress into breathlessness, wheezing and panicking.
Your body might give you signs prior to your attack:
- feeling breathless
- not being able to speak without struggling for air
- feeling your chest muscles getting strained
In the end, only you truly understand your body, and all you have to do is identify the signs to prevent something grave from happening.
What should you do if an inhaler is not available?
The first line of treatment should always be finding an asthma inhaler or a doctor, but if your attack is already in progress, try the following activities to relax you:
- Correct your posture- Sit up and maintain a posture that does not restrict airflow through your air passages. Ignore the urge of lying down.
- Focus on your breathing- Use the Buteyko method which involves breathing slowly and consistently through your nose to warm the air entering your air passages to avoid any further irritation or use the Papworth method which involves using your nose and diaphragm to breathe instead of your mouth and chest. This technique involves breathing and relaxing exercises to end or avoid the asthma attack.
- Avoid triggers- If you know what specific irritants cause you problems, make a conscious effort to avoid them at all times. If you are already having an attack, move out of that area because it is likely something present there is causing irritation to your air-passages.
- Having ginger and honey- These will help dilate your air passages and relax you.
- Have some caffeine- Research suggests that caffeine can help you breathe better for almost 4 hours, so consume it as soon as you identify your symptoms.
Importance of carrying an inhaler and use of rescue inhalers
Without doubt, an inhaler is the most important device for an asthmatic patient. Every patient must carry an inhaler at all times. Carrying an inhaler can sometimes be the thin line between life and death, so it is not something to be taken lightly. Over and above your regular inhaler, always carry a rescue inhaler containing a quick-relief medication called a bronchodilator, which opens up or dilates the air passages, thereby greatly helping in case of a severe attack. A rescue inhaler can also be used before exercise to avoid the risk of an asthma attack.