It’s often possible to treat an asthma attack at home. Most of the time, this means taking your rescue inhaler. Follow the asthma action plan that you and your doctor came up with. Take your medications as directed, and do what your doctor told you to do.
If your symptoms don’t get better, you might need to go to the hospital. If you have a severe asthma attack and you can’t speak, get help right away. You might have shortness of breath or wheezing, and you might be straining your chest muscles to breathe.
Don’t be afraid to go to the hospital right away if you have any of the above signs.
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At the hospital, many times, doctors can treat an asthma attack and get you out the same day, so you can go home. In 2016, almost 1.8 million Trusted Source adults and children went to the emergency room because they had asthma.
In some cases, a severe asthma attack may need to be taken to the hospital. If you have signs and symptoms of a severe asthma attack that don’t go away after 2 to 3 hours of treatment in the emergency department, it’s likely that you’ll be taken to the hospital for more treatment and monitoring.
You might be afraid to go to the hospital for asthma treatment, but knowing what to expect can help calm your fears.
Treatment options at the hospital
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People who have been hurt will need to be treated right away at the emergency room. This will depend on how bad the attack was. You can get any of the following:
* Beta-agonists like albuterol that work quickly. This is what your rescue inhaler is made of. At the hospital, you may be able to use a nebulizer to take these medicines instead of taking them with your inhaler. You’ll wear a mask to breathe the medicine into your lungs, which will help you feel better quickly. These can be taken in pill form, or they can be given through the IV line in very bad cases. Your lungs will be less irritated if you take corticosteroids. Corticosteroids can take a long time to work.
In this case, Ipratropium is what you need (Atrovent HFA). This medicine is called a bronchodilator, and it can be used to open your airways if albuterol doesn’t work for your asthma symptoms.
You may need a breathing tube and oxygen in the hospital if you are in a situation that is very dangerous. If other treatments haven’t worked and your symptoms keep getting worse, this is when you’ll need to see a doctor.
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Having to stay in the hospital
Your time in the hospital will depend on how well your symptoms respond to emergency treatment.
To make sure you don’t have another attack, your doctor might keep an eye on you for a few hours. When your symptoms are under control, they can let you go home and you can go home.
There are times when emergency treatment can help you, but if your symptoms don’t improve, you might be taken into the hospital and stay there for a few days.
People with asthma may need to stay in the intensive care unit if their condition is very bad or if they are in danger of dying (ICU).
Your doctors will always keep an eye on your progress, giving you medicine and checking your peak flow levels as needed. They might also do blood tests and X-rays to check your lungs.
Dispose of plans
As soon as your doctors say you’re healthy enough to go home, they’ll give you a discharge plan to follow.
This plan usually tells you what medicines you need to take and how to take them. Some of these instructions will help you better understand your symptoms and what to do if you have another asthma attack. To ask about your symptoms or treatments, this is a good time to do it.
Soon after leaving the hospital, it’s important to see your doctor for a follow-up appointment with him or her. Most people who go to the hospital for asthma attacks find that their usual asthma medications don’t work as well for them anymore. People with asthma need to see their doctor even if they don’t have any symptoms. They can change their asthma treatments and how they respond to an asthma attack.
If you have asthma, it’s better to see an asthma specialist (allergist or pulmonologist) after being hospitalized than to see your general practitioner. This is because these specialists know how to treat asthma. Specialized health care providers make it less likely that you’ll need emergency care in the future.
As soon as you get home from the hospital, you may be mentally and physically tired. In some cases, it can take days or weeks to fully recover from an event that could have been life threatening.
To get back into your normal routine, take your time and don’t be too speedy. If you can, stay at home for as long as you can and try to avoid as many asthma triggers as possible. If you need help with household chores and tasks until you feel better, ask your friends and family.
Asthma support groups may also be a good place to look for help and support. An asthma attack that needs to be taken to the hospital can be emotionally draining. It’s good to hear from and talk to people who have been through the same things.
There are times when asthma attacks can be life-threatening, so you need to know when to get help from a doctor at the hospital. Knowing what to look for when you have an asthma attack can help you get the help you need more quickly. You and your doctor can also make changes to your treatment plan to keep your asthma under control and avoid future attacks, as well.