During an asthma attack the muscles surrounding the air passages in the lungs go into spasm, their lining swells and excessive mucus is produced. These changes combine to narrow the airways, making breathing difficult.
People with asthma should always carry prescribed medication to relieve an attack at the first warning. Medication is usually in the form of a metereddose bronchodilator aerosol ('puffer'). The delivery of aerosol medications during an attack (especially for children) is easier and more effective with a spacer device.
Signs and symptoms
The seriousness of an attack may be difficult to assess, so prompt action should always be taken. Sometimes an asthma attack is sudden and severe. Occasionally it is life-threatening, and first aid may be urgently needed. Note that wheezy breathing does not occur in all asthma attacks.
First aid treatment
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