Asthma attack


An asthma attack, also known as an asthma exacerbation, is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms brought on by tightness of the muscles surrounding the airways. It occurs when the airways swell and inflame. The breathing (bronchial) tubes narrow as a result of the muscles around the airways contracting and producing more mucus.

During an asthma attack episode, the individual may experience symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Timely at-home care can help alleviate mild asthma attack symptoms. However, if medication and treatment for asthma are not administered promptly, the wheezing and breathing difficulties can intensify. When using a peak flow meter during an asthma attack, the measurement is likely to be lower than the average value. If a severe asthma episode persists despite home care, it can escalate into a life-threatening emergency.

In order to prevent severe attacks and keep asthma under control, it’s critical to recognize and treat even minor symptoms of an asthma attack. Early diagnosis and treatment of an asthma episodes are essential to preventing an asthma attack. Observe the treatment regimen that you developed with your healthcare provider in advance. The treatment strategy should outline what to do if and when the asthma begins to worsen, as well as how to handle an asthma attack that is already occurring.


Individuals have different signs and symptoms of an asthma episode. Signs and symptoms of an asthma attack include:

  • Frequent coughing or wheezing, especially during at night
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • If utilizing a peak flow meter, low readings for peak expiratory flow (PEF)
  • Symptoms that do not improve after using a rescue inhaler.

In order to effectively manage everyday symptoms, the patient’s treatment strategy will require occasional adjustments as asthma can change over time. Failing to maintain good control of their asthma increases the likelihood of experiencing an asthma attack. Persistent lung inflammation can lead to asthma flare-ups occurring unpredictably at any time.

In the event of an asthma flare-up, it is important to adhere to the treatment measures outlined in the written asthma plan provided by the healthcare provider. If the peak expiratory flow (PEF) values improve and symptoms subside, home treatment may be adequate.

Since an asthma attack’s intensity can quickly worsen, it’s crucial to treat these symptoms as soon as they are noticed. The patient may require emergency care if their asthma symptoms do not improve or if they worsen after taking the prescribed medication. A healthcare provider can assist a patient in learning to recognize an asthma emergency so that they will know when to seek medical attention.


When exposed to specific triggers, an excessively sensitive immune system causes the airways (bronchial tubes) to swell and become inflamed. Asthma triggers vary from person to person. Pollen, mold, dust mites, tobacco smoke, cold or dry air, stress, and even gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are some of the common triggers for asthma attacks.

Respiratory infections, including those brought on by the common cold, often make asthma symptoms worse for many people. Certain things in their workplace can trigger asthma attacks in certain people. An asthma attack may occasionally be without a clear reason.

Risk factors

Anyone with asthma is susceptible to experiencing an asthma attack. However, certain factors can increase the risk of a severe asthma attack. These factors include:

  • History of severe asthma attack, or intubated due to an asthma attack.
  • Previously been hospitalized or required an ER visit due to asthma.
  • Patient uses more than two rescue (quick-acting) inhalers each month.
  • Asthma attacks are frequently unnoticed by patients until symptoms have gotten worse.
  • Patient has additional ongoing medical issues, such as sinusitis, nasal polyps, cardiovascular disease, or chronic pulmonary disease.