First Aid Training is something every person should be taught starting in primary school and finishing in secondary school. The ability to know when something is wrong with your body or that of someone else, how to treat that issue, and when to self-treat or seek more advanced medical assistance should be considered a fundamental life skill.
Our Emergency departments and hospitals would not be overcrowded and our medical system overburdened if everyone was taught from a young age what constitutes a medical emergency that can be easily, safely, and hygienically treated in the home, and what needs to be assessed by a qualified medical practitioner or requires immediate emergency services assistance.
Alas, we do not live in that world, and it is up to individuals to seek out First Aid courses that will educate and teach the basic skills to save a life, treat an injury, or recognise an illness and take the correct measures to effect healing and a return to good health.
One of the most common medical emergencies in the home is an asthma attack, or a shortness of breath due to some restriction in the airway, or fluid on the lungs, as in the case of pneumonia or COPD.
What Is Asthma First Aid
Asthma First Aid is the ability to recognise and provide an immediate First Aid response to assist people with asthma or COPD experiencing breathing difficulties or having an asthma attack.
What Causes Asthma Attacks
Asthma is a condition in which the bronchial tubes in your lungs swell and become inflamed. This process produces extra mucus that fills the tubes, making breathing difficult by restricting the amount of oxygen the body can absorb from each breath.
Pollen particles and industrial pollutants in the air are the most common triggers for asthmatics; however, allergies, exercise, hay fever, and thunderstorm asthma can trigger an asthma attack or breathing difficulties.
Asthma First Aid
All asthma attacks require an immediate, fast-acting dose of medication. It is delivered on the spot by a Ventolin puffer or inhaler device that contains the specific bronchodilator medication prescribed by a doctor.
The most common reliever medication is salbutamol. This treatment is delivered directly from an inhaler for adults and with a spacer device for children. A written asthma action plan will give specific instructions on providing a dose of the medication. A spacer device tube (with a mask for children under four) allows the medication to stay in the tube and be breathed in. The child can breathe four times before repeating the 4×4 method. An adult will require one puff of the inhaler and hold their breath for four seconds before releasing and repeating as required.
Giving First Aid For An Asthma Attack Without An Inhaler
Asthma attacks can occur suddenly without warning, catching a person off guard and in a place or situation they are unable to access their inhaler. You can still offer First Aid without an inhaler as follows:
· Sit the person upright to open their airway.
· Have them slow down their breathing by taking long, deep breaths. As deep as they can comfortably.
· Have them breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth to prevent hyperventilation.
· Try to keep them calm. Anxiety or panic will cause the chest and back muscles to tighten, making breathing more difficult, creating more stress, and making the situation worse.
· Remove either the trigger or the person from the location.
· Caffeine has similar properties to some asthma medications. Drinking a warm coffee might help to temporarily improve breathing and open the airway enough to calm or lessen the person’s anxiety.
· Get medical help. If you can’t control the wheezing, coughing, or breathing difficulties, it is essential to call 000 quickly. If the airway becomes restricted, preventing oxygen flow, the person will fall unconscious and require CPR in the form of chest-only compressions until the ambulance arrives, and the patient can be intubated to force the airway open to allow an oxygen flow once more.
One reason asthma is deadly is that without oxygen, the brain begins to die, and the body starts shutting down all the organs until the last vital organ, the heart, also stops beating. In this moment, life and death rest in the hands of the person who can provide CPR.
Chest compressions work to force the heart valve open and closed. This external force mimics the heartbeat and circulates the blood already in the body. Without the ability to give rescue breaths, the level of oxygen in the blood quickly dissipates, starving the brain and cells, and as a result of that oxygen starvation, the cells in the brain and the body die. Left without oxygen for longer than five minutes and the chances of saving the person’s life are rapidly reduced for every minute to follow. That is why it is always better to err on the side of caution and call 000 if you witness a person having an asthma attack and they are without their normal medication or the medication is not working sufficiently to restore normal airway volume.
If you have never taken a First Aid course or learned how to provide CPR correctly, this article will hopefully jolt you into changing that ASAP. It could be the life of someone near and dear to you that you save, regardless of whether or not they have an existing asthma or heart condition.