May 2nd is World Asthma Day. All around the globe people with asthma and organizations dedicated to asthma control and education join together to increase awareness about asthma and improve the lives of all people with asthma.
One statistic clearly shows how far asthma awareness still has to go: almost three quarters of people don’t know what to do if someone has a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.
An asthma attack can be scary, both for the person having it and anyone who sees it happening. A person nearby who knows how to handle the situation can be a big help.
Here’s what to do:
- Stay calm. Try your best to be reassuring and have a calming presence. Help your friend relax. Panic will only intensify the asthma attack.
- Take your friend away from any possible asthma triggers, like smoke, pollen, dust, or cold air.
- Have your friend sit upright. Breathing is as unobstructed as possible in an upright position while lying down might make breathing more difficult.
- Follow the emergency plan. If your friend is able to tell you, follow their emergency asthma action plan. It will most likely include using a rescue inhaler. Retrieve the inhaler for them.
- Call 911 if:
- an inhaler is not available
- the inhaler doesn’t help
- the inhaler helps at first but then your friend gets worse again
- your friend is having trouble talking or is struggling to breathe
- your friend’s lips are turning blue
- your friend becomes unconscious
Don’t be afraid to call 911 in an emergency. An asthma attack likely won’t go away on it’s own and if there’s no medication readily available or it’s not working, an attack can warrant a visit to the emergency room.
Friends and family can be the first line of defense for someone who is having an asthma flare-up. If you or a loved one has asthma, familiarize yourself with their emergency asthma plan so that you know exactly what to do in case of an attack.