3 Types Of Asthma Attacks

3 Types Of Asthma Attacks

Over the course of my life, I have experienced different types of asthma attacks. How I respond to them sort of depends on what type of attack I’m having. So, here are three types of asthma attacks I’ve experienced in my life.

The first two are the worst ones.

You will see signs and symptoms. I may be talking in short, gasping breaths. I may be leaning on things to breathe. I might be frequently stopping to catch my breath when moving around. My shoulders may be hunched. So, you will definitely be able to tell I’m in trouble — If you’re paying attention.

  1.  Half Way In.  That’s exactly how I described them when I was a kid. It felt as though I could only get half a breath in. It was like there was a wall. When the air hit that wall, it bounced back out. No more air could get in during that breath.

    This gets worse over time, causing you to stack your breaths. You develop a barrel chest. Yeah, like, I had one back in my 30%-55% lung function days. Like, thanks to modern asthma medicine for ending these types of attacks. I do not have these anymore (Thank God!) But, I’m certain there are those reading this who do.

    The only remedy for these attacks was epinephrine when I was a kid. Today, it would entail lots and lots and lots of Ventolin. This required a trip to the ER. If you experience them, don’t attempt to delay! Take actions according to your asthma action plan and seek help right away!

  2.  Phlegm and Tickly. It feels like millions of little people are lining your airways with feathers.

    Think about this for a second

    They are waving these feathers back and forth, literally tickling and irritating the heck out of your airways.

    Your airways respond by trying to kill the little people. They spasm and spasm and release thick sputum. All of this combined makes you feel like #1 on this list. But, you also feel like you are drowning in your own phlegm.

    But, there’s also that irritating tickling feeling you can’t seem to overcome. These are the types of asthma attacks I used to have when I’d forget to take my theophylline. It’s like my lungs loved the calm, soothing bronchodilator actions produced by the drug, and got ticked off and spasmed when it wasn’t there.

    Usually, the remedy here was taking my theophylline and waiting 20 minutes. Usually, that did the trick. But, on occasion, it didn’t. And it was time to seek help.

    Here are the invisible asthma attacks.

    Here,  I will feel symptoms, but you won’t see any signs. You might even think I’m faking it. But, nope! I’m not. That’s why I’m telling you I’m having one. I just think it’s good that you know, just in case.

  3.  Tight Chest And Mild. So, I’m exposed to my asthma triggers. Say, I’m cleaning and inhaling dust mites or mold spores. Yes, my lungs hate those guys. Yeah! Not good. My airways get ticked off and spasm.

    The problem is (for them, anyway), I prepared my lungs for this by inhaling Advair twice daily every day for days on end. I take Singulair every day too. Sure it’s annoying taking medicine. But, when my lungs get ticked off, it only produces a mild chest pressure. It produces very mild shortness of breath (if any). My lung function stays normal at 80% or better.

    This is what good asthma control is like. Good asthma control means that asthma attacks are rare, but mild and easily controlled when they do occur. And this is what they are like.

So, like a cold, like hay fever, like allergies, these asthma attacks are more of an annoyance than anything.

Still, it’s no fun. Like a cold, you have to deal with them in some way. You have to take them seriously. Because it could get worse. There’s the potential it could become like #1 and #2 on this list.

The good news is that these attacks usually go away on their own. All I have to do is remove myself from the culprit. Stop what I’m doing! Get away from the dust mites! Get away from the mold spores. Stop mowing the grass. Get out of my dad’s cabin. Get over my cold (may need doctor’s help here).

I might need a dose or two of Ventolin. But, usually, not so bad. Not good. But, not nearly close to #1 and #2 on this list. A testament to modern asthma wisdom and medicine.

What to make of this.

The idea for this post was created in my head back in 1988 when I was in college. I would have attacks, and they’d all be different, depending on what triggered them. They also changed over time. As I got older they changed. As I gradually developed control of this disease, they gradually improved from type #1 to type #3. They gradually occurred less and less often. Today, most of my attacks are of the #3 type.. And, lacking a cure for this disease, I think that’s a pretty darn good improvement.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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