Causes and mechanism of development of an asthma attack, symptoms, first aid, treatment

An asthma attack is a condition characterized by a strong, sharp contraction of the bronchial tissues and is accompanied by the production of a large amount of secretion. This leads to the fact that the lungs do not receive enough oxygen.

An attack of bronchial asthma develops under the influence of factors such as allergens, infectious processes, drugs.

Bronchial asthma attack

The development of an asthma attack is a dangerous phenomenon that threatens the patient’s life, since during it the breathing process is significantly hampered. This condition is characterized by suffocation, a sharp deterioration in the patient’s condition.

In such cases, you need to know how to stop an asthma attack. The first thing to do is to use an inhaler with a drug that relaxes the smooth muscle cells of the airways and thus relieves the patient’s condition.

Severe consequences of an asthma attack are status asthmaticus, spontaneous pneumothorax, and respiratory failure.

Causes and mechanism of development of an attack

At the heart of an attack in bronchial asthma is a spasm of the smooth muscles of the bronchi. The patient’s condition deteriorates sharply, there is a cough, severe shortness of breath, wheezing exhalations are observed.

With bronchial asthma, such periodic exacerbations are inevitable.

Deterioration of the condition can occur at any time of the day, but most often it happens at night.

Asthma attacks are caused by:

  • contact with allergens. In this case, the exacerbation is due to the influence of such factors as pollen of flowering plants, book and household dust, mold, etc .;
  • stress, fear, increased anxiety. Emotional stress affects the respiratory process;
  • the presence of acute respiratory diseases. Such diseases increase the load on the bronchi and can aggravate the course of the inflammatory process;
  • taking improperly selected drugs or getting used to the body to the means for relieving the symptoms of bronchial asthma. With long-term treatment with the same drug that stops the manifestations of the disease, the body may develop tolerance to the active substance included in its composition;
  • physical stress. In case of physical overload, the breathing rate is disturbed, which causes a reaction of the bronchi.

In some cases, it is not possible to establish the cause of an asthmatic attack. It is especially difficult to understand what causes the aggravation at night, during sleep.

Harbingers of an attack

Before an asthmatic has an attack, so-called precursors appear.

An approaching asthma attack is indicated by the following:

  • frequent sneezing or dry cough;
  • feeling short of breath;
  • acute rhinitis;
  • feeling of fear;
  • the release of copious sputum;
  • itching and rash on the skin;
  • loud wheezing, arising from breathing and distinguishable even from a distance;
  • a feeling of heaviness and squeezing in the chest area.

When symptoms appear that indicate an impending asthma attack, urgent action is needed to prevent it.

Seizure periods

There are the following periods of an attack of bronchial asthma:

  • easy stage. In this case, the patient feels not too pronounced discomfort. He can speak without any particular difficulty, is able to explain what signs of an attack of the disease he has;
  • middle stage. This period is characterized by the inability of the patient to speak in full sentences. Shortness of breath does not stop with medication. The patient is still able to formulate a request for help;
  • heavy. This is an extremely dangerous condition. The symptomatology of suffocation is pronounced. Because of this, the patient is forced to take a certain posture and give up movement. Shortness of breath is pronounced, the patient makes up to 30 breaths and exhalations per minute and practically cannot talk. He develops a panic attack. Heart rate increases up to 120 beats per minute. Bronchial spasm gradually increases. At this stage, it is necessary to give the patient a medicine as soon as possible in order to prevent the onset of the next stage;
  • asthmatic status. This period stands out from the rest, since it is the most dangerous. It is characterized by a prolonged attack of suffocation. Due to lack of air, the function of the speech apparatus is completely blocked, as well as motor activity. There is a risk of coma. The heart rate drops to 60 beats per minute or less. In this case, action should be taken immediately to save the patient’s life.

In case of an asthma attack, it is necessary to carefully monitor the patient’s condition in order to prevent the transition to a severe stage and the development of severe complications.

Asthma attack symptoms

An asthma attack is manifested by the following symptoms:

  • gradually increasing difficulty in breathing;
  • feeling short of breath;
  • increased heart rate;
  • profuse sweating;
  • feeling of tightness in the chest;
  • wheezing on exhalation;
  • increased breathing;
  • mucous discharge from the nose;
  • light-headedness;
  • general severe weakness;
  • restless state;
  • dyspnea;
  • dry and hacking cough and wheezing on breathing.

One of the signs is the forced position of the patient’s body during an attack of bronchial asthma: due to acute air deficiency, a person sits, leaning forward, resting his hands on a hard surface, breathing with difficulty.

The clinic of an attack in bronchial asthma, which has the most severe course, includes blanching of the skin, blue lips and nails, puffiness of the face. Features of symptoms largely depend on the severity of the condition.

Emergency care for an attack of bronchial asthma

If there is a patient in the house, then family members need to familiarize themselves with first aid methods for asthma attacks before the arrival of doctors.

It is necessary to call a doctor if symptoms of a severe period or asthmatic status are observed, as well as if all the measures taken to stop the attack have not yielded results.

First aid to a patient with an attack of bronchial asthma is as follows:

  • first it is necessary to calm the patient down, sit down, give a bronchodilator medicine in an inhaler;
  • provide a comfortable position. Symptoms may become less pronounced if the person sits with their body tilted forward and resting their hands. You can also try to lay the asthmatic, but only on the side, not on the back;
  • remove jewelry, tie and all other things that impede full breathing;
  • open the window so that fresh, clean air enters the room;
  • stop any physical activity;
  • do not force the patient to lie down: in this position, breathing will become even more difficult.

It is forbidden to do the following:

  • use the inhaler more often than prescribed by your doctor;
  • put hot compresses on the chest;
  • inhale essential oils and other substances with a strong pungent odor;
  • self-administer potent drugs;
  • do inhalations with decoctions of plants.

The algorithm of actions for first aid should be clear: not a minute should be lost in case of asthma exacerbation.

Methods for stopping an attack

To help the patient, you need to know how to properly relieve an asthma attack.

The main ways to normalize the condition include the use of special medications and the implementation of breathing exercises.

Treatment must be carried out under the supervision of a physician.


The main way to relieve the symptoms of suffocation is the use of special preparations in the form of inhalers.

Treatment of exacerbations of bronchial asthma is usually based on the use of drugs such as:

  • adrenomimetics – drugs that quickly relieve spasms by expanding capillaries and affecting the receptors of the muscles of the bronchi;
  • M-anticholinergics, which relax the muscle tissue of the bronchi;
  • antihistamines that relieve swelling of the respiratory tract;
  • antispasmodics that enhance the relaxation of the muscles of the bronchi.

Many drugs for asthmatics come in the form of inhalers. They need to be used correctly in order to achieve the desired effect. This requires:

  • exhale through your teeth, turn the inhaler over and clasp the mouthpiece of the bottle with your lips;
  • tilt your head back a little, take a deep and slow breath, simultaneously press the bottom of the bottle, spraying the drug. Breathe in until the lungs feel full;
  • remove the mouthpiece from your mouth, hold your breath for a few seconds;
  • close your lips, exhale slowly. If you need to take more than one dose, then you should wait at least a minute and repeat the manipulations.

Strong drugs containing adrenaline and epinephrine should only be used by specialists.

To learn more about how to quickly relieve an asthma attack, you need to consult a specialist.

Relief of an attack without medication

There are ways to stop an asthma attack that can complement the process of treating a patient with exacerbations.

How to relieve an attack of bronchial asthma at home? This can be done with breathing exercises. Breathing exercises are performed as follows:

  • hands are placed on the waist line. Take a deep breath, inflating the belly. After that, you should make a sharp exhalation and draw in your stomach;
  • hands clasp the chest, slightly squeezing. Slow exhalation is performed, pronouncing the sounds “rrr”, “brrh”, “brroh”;
  • palms are squeezed, raised above the head. Stand on tiptoes. As you exhale, they stretch up and sharply lower their arms down, moving from toes to feet.

All movements must be smooth, measured.

Prevention of bronchial asthma attacks

To prevent attacks of bronchial asthma, you must follow these rules:

  • avoid contact with potential allergenic substances;
  • always have a bottle with a drug for arresting an attack;
  • lead a moderately active lifestyle without overloading the body;
  • consult a doctor in a timely manner, do not treat even common colds on your own;
  • organize proper nutrition so that the body receives minerals and vitamins in sufficient quantities, exclude synthetic additives;
  • eliminate all sources of dust in the dwelling;
  • observe the necessary hygiene measures;
  • exclude contact with pets;
  • quit smoking, both active and passive;
  • do not use perfumes, deodorants, cologne.

Also, for the prevention of seizures, it is necessary:

  • at least twice a week, carry out wet cleaning in a residential area;
  • follow a hypoallergenic diet;
  • regularly clean upholstered furniture from dust;
  • give up half-cushions and blankets filled with wool, feathers, down;
  • wash bedding at least once a week.

In order to prevent exacerbations in asthma, you should regularly visit your doctor and follow all his recommendations.


When asthma exacerbates, measures should be taken immediately to stabilize the patient’s condition. This can be done with the help of special preparations in the form of inhalers or breathing exercises.

All patients suffering from bronchial asthma should regularly visit a doctor for preventive examinations.

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