Key Asthma Symptoms
The key symptoms of asthma are also common in other major illnesses and so self diagnosing is not recommended. Only a doctor can diagnose asthma and then only after several tests have been taken.
The most common identifiers of asthma are:
• Chronic cough.
• Tightness in the chest
• Shortness of breath
Having said that, these symptoms are also common with some heart ailments, cystic fibrosis, bronchitis, allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Sometimes, a person with severe asthma can have a debilitating illness; they are so impacted by the symptoms that they are not able to function normally on a day to day basis. Fortunately, the vast number of asthma sufferers have symptoms that are much more mild. For these sufferers an asthma attack my occur infrequently and the use of Ventolin HFA is all they need.
For some sufferers, their asthma may be too severe to be controlled with the use of an inhaler or nebulizer and their symptoms continue to get worse; the throat muscles can become so inflamed that they have serious difficulty breathing, they wheeze, have a tightness in their chest, and, develop a chronic cough. When this happens, going about their daily lives is impossible.
If your regular medication does not relieve the symptoms then your progress to a severe attack and medical intervention is usually necessary. As the symptoms get worse your ability to breathe is reduced and your body takes in less oxygen than it needs. Without immediate help this can be fatal.
Some people suffer infrequent mild asthma attacks and they are able to manage their symptoms by using an inhaler, or, nebulizer. On the onset of an attack a puff or spray of asthma medication is all they need.
With regular use of a Peak Flow Monitor it is possible to know in advance if you are going to have an asthma attack.
Without knowing what your regular lung capacity is, it is not easy to know if you are having a severe asthma attack, A Peak Flow Meter, properly used, will let you stay on top of your regular measure of breathing capacity; during an asthma attack using the flow meter will give you a measure of your of breathing ability, and hence your level of oxygen intake.
If your oxygen intake is low you should go to the hospital immediately. Let’s look at this in more detail;
What is a Peak Flow Meter
A hand held device, a peak flow meter measures the speed of your breath (air) coming from your lungs after you have exhaled forcefully immediately after fully inhaling. Peak flow meters are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Portable and affordable, these devices are easy to take with you wherever you go.
Keeping records of the results – your peak expiratory flow (PEF) is part of an asthma management plan. If your asthma is under control your readings will be consistent, if they are not, your asthma may be getting worse.
How do I find out my best peak expiratory flow
When you start using a Peak Flow Meter you need to record each of your readings two or three times a day for at least 2-3 weeks. Always take your tests at the same time each day and always take your test prior to using your Ventolin HFA inhaler. Follow the instructions that come with your meter on how to take the breath tests. The highest number you have recorded over the test period is your peak expiratory flow.
Sometimes, during a severe asthma attack it may seem that your symptoms have eased because you are not wheezing, when instead, your lung capacity has become too low to let you wheeze. By taking your flow rate and comparing it to your recorded peak rate, you will know if you should be going immediately to the hospital. Failure to do so could be fatal.
Regular use of your meter can assist you in identifying when an asthma attack may be due. An asthma attack may present symptoms up to a week before it actually occurs; knowing when to use your Ventolin HFA ahead of an attack can prevent an attack from occurring.
Talk with your doctor about how a Peak Flow Meter may help you manage your symptoms.