Open Accessibility Menu

Asthma and Breathing Problems

Asthma and Breathing Problems Are Often Medical Emergencies

Experiencing an asthma attack or another breathing problem is always frightening. It’s even more overwhelming if you aren’t sure if your situation can be managed at home or requires medical attention. Often, you can use inhalers and medications to manage the symptoms. However, severe symptoms can quickly spiral out of control, requiring emergency care. When that happens, your symptoms must be treated at the emergency room to prevent a serious complication.

Can Asthma Symptoms Be Managed at Home?

These symptoms aren’t always medical emergencies, but they do require medical care. You should contact your primary care physician if you:

  • Feel weak and dizzy
  • Have trouble with normal activities
  • Have a persistent cough
  • Wheeze when breathing, even after taking asthma medications.

What Symptoms are Medical Emergencies?

You need to call 911 or visit an emergency room if you have severe asthma symptoms. This includes:

  • Blue lips and nails
  • Flaring nostrils when breathing
  • Persistent symptoms even after taking medication
  • Taking 30 or more breaths a minute
  • Trouble walking and talking
  • Trouble breathing, even with medications

Causes of Breathing Problems

Your provider will run diagnostic tests such as a CT scan, chest-ray, and echocardiogram, to diagnose the cause of your breathing problem. The causes are plentiful and include:

  • Asthma
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchial and trachea disorders
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart disease
  • Panic attacks
  • Allergies

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you go to the emergency room because of breathing problems, your doctor will quickly work to stabilize you. Then, the provider will conduct a physical exam and lung function test to determine if you have asthma. In addition, your doctor can order other diagnostic tests if necessary.

Once the emergency is addressed, your provider will create a treatment plan for you. First, it’s important to understand that there is not currently a cure. However, treatments have progressed to the point of making it a manageable condition.

Your doctor might prescribe:

  • Inhalers and other quick-relief medications
  • Long-term control medications to treat changes to the airways caused by asthma

If standard asthma medication isn’t enough, your doctor can also prescribe biologics. Biologics have proven effective at preventing the airways from swelling. Without swelling and inflammation, you can fill your lungs with air.

If you think you have a medical emergency, call 911 or visit the emergency room. Asthma and breathing problems can cause significant complications, so get help immediately.