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Helping with an Asthma Attack



I just wanted to know, what do I do for a person having an asthma attack. It scares me crazy not knowing what to do. Should I give CPR?


Get medical help by calling 911.  While you are waiting for the emergency squad, help calm the person as much as possible and help them take their rescue inhaler (Proventil, Ventolin, ProAir, etc..).  They should take 2 puffs of the medicine.  If they stop breathing you can begin CPR.  Give rescue breaths as you learned in CPR class.  If their heart stops you will need to also give chest compressions. 

Each person with asthma should have an asthma action plan to follow.  The asthma action plan tells the person what to do if their asthma worsens.  The goal is to start medicines when asthma begins to worsen rather than wait for a full "asthma attack".  Peak flow meters are a hand held device that allows the patient with asthma to monitor their breathing at home.  Sometimes the peak flow readings drop before the person starts to feel symptoms.  This would allow them to start treatment before they start to feel bad.  It is also important for people with asthma to take their "controller" medicines every day as ordered.  Sometimes people with asthma stop their "controller" medicines when they start to feel better.  Remember asthma is always there even when the breathing symptoms are not.  The "controller" medicines help "control" asthma by reducing inflammation in the airways and reducing asthma symptoms.  If your medicines are not controlling your asthma, it is important to talk to your doctor.  It is also helpful to avoid things (smoking, allergens, infections, etc..) that will make your asthma worse.  

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Response by:

Cathy   Benninger, RN, MS, APRN, C-AE Cathy Benninger, RN, MS, APRN, C-AE
Clinical Assistant Professor
Director, OSU Asthma Center Educational Program
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University