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What Having Asthma is Really Like

Updated on August 4, 2015

In This Article

Asthma is a chronic disease that makes your airways swell and blocks air from entering the lungs, but if you're here, a doctor probably already told you that. So I'm going to tell you about what it's really like having it, how the treatments work in layman's terms, and some supplementary things you can use to help and prevent symptoms. Disclaimer: I AM NOT A DOCTOR. This is purely anecdotal and not to be taken as medical advice.

Medical Info Video

What an Asthma Attack Looks, Sounds, and Feels Like

Everyone is different, this is just my personal experience with myself and my father having asthma.

Looks like: Open mouthed gasping, awkward sitting like an old person with a bad back

Sounds like: at first like a fat kid that just ran up 3 flights of stairs, the first symptom is unusually heavy breathing, then wheezing which is like a whistle or a harmonica stuck in the throat (at this stage if they are talking you will notice difficulty completing sentences) then all out gasping and choking sounds with continued wheezing

Feels like: Your lungs are shrinking, your breathing gets shallow and takes a lot of work, then a steady cramping moving from your lower back, then down your legs and through your shoulders. Deep breaths become impossible, and your body will start to panic.

Real Life Asthma Attack

What to Do If You're Having an Asthma Attack

If you have medicine (a rescue inhaler or nebulizer) then take it. If you don't, find a way to get one and while you wait or if you can't, then do the following things. Don't slouch. The pain in your back will make you want to but it compresses your lungs. Raise your arms over your head and tilt your chin slightly up. Focus on counting and slowing your breaths. If the attack is environmental (caused by humidity or dog dander or another external thing) then try to remove yourself from that environment.

Good Breathing Posture


What to Do If Someone Near You Is Having an Asthma Attack

Talking can be hard when you can't breathe. Ask them questions they can nod or shake their head to. Ask if they have their medicine, if they do, ask if they need help taking it, if they don't, ask if they can get some or need you to get some from somewhere. In the meantime, try to keep them calm, and if there is anything available to reduce the attack, offer it to them. I find being in air conditioning helps, and hot drinks help. However, if the attack is bad enough that choking is a risk, don't risk it.Focus on getting them medicine, or getting them to a place where there is medicine, be it their house or a hospital.

Using a Nebulizer or an Inhaler



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