5 Tips: When To Seek Help For Asthma
Many times as a child with high-risk asthma I suffered too long before seeking help. Even as an adult I am guilty of this from time to time, although I’m far better than I used to be. I have had many asthmatic patients tell me, “Yeah, I should have called my doctor two days ago, but I figured I could just fix myself.” So, I’ve decided it’s normal for asthmatics to have difficulty deciding when to seek help. Based on my own personal and professional experience, here are five tips to help you decide when to seek help.
- Your symptoms are getting worse. The oldest method of knowing when to seek medical attention is to listen to your body. Asthma is one of those diseases that offers symptoms and signs telling you how your asthma is doing. Once you become adept at learning what your body is saying, this can help you decide what actions to take, such as when to get away from your asthma triggers, when to take your rescue medicine, and when to seek help.
- Your peak flows are headed south. Most asthma experts recommend that every asthmatic use a peak flow meter either every morning or every evening or both. This can be a useful tool for determining how your asthma is doing. In fact, your peak flows can often indicate your asthma is getting worse before you even feel symptoms. So, if your peak flows are heading in a downward direction, this indicates that some action on your part is indicated. If your peak flows are in the red zone, and your efforts to treat yourself continue to fail, this means you need to seek help right now.
- You’re using more rescue medicine than normal. This is a classic sign that your asthma is getting worse and that you need to seek help. If you’re constantly puffing on your rescue inhaler hoping and praying that it will work this time, chances are it won’t. A typical prescription calls for 2-4 puffs of albuterol every 4-6 hours. If you’ve already exceeded this dose, and you still don’t feel right, it’s time to seek help. The same goes for albuterol breathing treatments.
- Your gut says you need to seek help. So, that little voice in the back of your head is saying, “call your doctor!” or “Go to the emergency room!” This is followed by the unending task of mulling it over in your head: “I will be fine if I just wait a little longer,” or “they will just tell me I’m not sick enough.” First off, no responsible healthcare giver is going to tell you that you are not sick enough. Second off, most healthcare givers understand it’s much easier to get you breathing easy again if you seek help early, as opposed to waiting. Look, it is very normal for us asthmatics to deny that we need to seek help, especially when we can’t breathe. This is true even for asthmatics who are doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists. So, when your mind says to seek help, just do it!
- Someone tells you to seek help. By the time your asthma attack becomes severe, your asthma signs should be pretty obvious to others around you. For example, when you start talking in short choppy sentences, are breathing paradoxically, and are leaning on things to breathe, any vigilant person around you should take notice. This could be a parent, friend, teacher, or coworker. This should entice them to say something to you, such as, “You need to go to the emergency room.” If someone says something about your breathing, you ought to heed their advice.
Seek help when you need it. It’s never easy making the decision to seek help, especially when you’re feeling anxiety associated with difficulty breathing. By heeding these five tips you should be able to get the help when you need it, and quickly get back on your way to breathing easy and living normally.