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Asthma (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

If you think you or your child may have asthma, make an appointment with your health-care provider. Some clues pointing to asthma include the following:

  • wheezing,
  • difficulty breathing,
  • pain or tightness in your chest, and
  • recurrent, spasmodic cough that is worse at night.

If you or your child has asthma, you should have an action plan worked out in advance with your health-care provider. This plan should include instructions on what to do when an asthma attack occurs, when to call the health-care provider, and when to go to a hospital emergency department. The following are general guidelines only. If your provider recommends another plan for you, follow that plan.

  • Take two puffs of an inhaled beta-agonist (a rescue medication), with one minute between puffs. If there is no relief, take an additional puff of inhaled beta-agonist every five minutes. If there is no response after eight puffs, which is 40 minutes, your health-care provider should be called.
  • Your provider also should be called if you have an asthma attack when you are already taking oral or inhaled steroids or if your inhaler treatments are not lasting four hours.

Although asthma is a reversible disease, and treatments are available, people can die from a severe asthma attack.

  • If you are having an asthma attack and have severe shortness of breath or are unable to reach your health-care provider in a short period of time, you must go to the nearest hospital emergency department.
  • Do not drive yourself to the hospital. Have a friend or family member drive. If you are alone, call 911 immediately for emergency medical transport.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/26/2013

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