In Asthma, Blog

Are you aware when an asthma attack may be coming?

Monitoring your asthma can help you spot an asthma attack before it happens. But where do we even start?

Asthma is near and dear to our hearts, so we thought we’d start off with the ‘simple stuff’, knowing the signs of an oncoming asthma attack. Here, Exhale resident Allergist Dr. Detjen, M.D. explores numerous aspects of identifying asthmatic symptoms.

How frequent are you having asthma symptoms?

Symptom frequency is the best way to monitor your asthma control. Symptoms should be infrequent–the less they happen the better. A peak flow meter is sometimes recommended, because it can be used as early warning signal of worsening asthma.

Each patient has a “best” peak flow rate based on their height and gender. Green zone readings are within normal range. The yellow and red zones represent a peak flow of less than 80% and less than 50% of predicted peak flow, respectively.

Staying in ‘the zone’

The green zone. This is the safe zone, corresponding with a peak flow of greater than 80%.

The yellow zone. The patient is able to achieve between 50% and 80% of their “best” predicted peak flow rate. This may suggest that the asthma is only partially controlled and medications may need to be altered.

The red zone. The patient is currently able to achieve less than 50% of their “best” peak flow rate. This suggests that a moderate to severe attack has begun and symptoms either have started or will start shortly.

Know the signs to spot an asthma attack.

The following signs indicate a severe asthma attack:

  • Inability to say more than a few words between breaths
  • Peak flow reading in the red zone
  • Incessant coughing and high-pitched wheezing, marked shortness of breath
  • High pulse rate (over 100/minute, or breaths more than 40/minute)
  • Over-inflated chest with visible spaces between ribs
  • Tendency to lean forward with shoulders held high

Thanks for following along during this quick, informative post on ‘zones’ of your asthma and how to spot an asthma attack. We hope you won’t need any of the information about an asthma attack–but if you do, ensure your child knows how to identify the signs, too.

Also, while we’re on the topic of childhood asthma. Have you checked out our recently released eBook? It’s called, “What Every Mom Should Know About Childhood Asthma.” Just click here, and get your copy today! Also, search our Learn section to find more articles on asthma.

Want to share your asthma or allergy story? Share your family’s journey updates with us across social media! Find us on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook @ExhaleWithUs. We’d love to hear from you!

Dr Paul Detjen

Ask a Chicago North Shore mom for an allergist, and she’s very likely to refer you to Dr. Paul Detjen. He has been a practicing allergist-immunologist for over 20 years after receiving his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and completing his residency and fellowship at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Detjen is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the Chicagoland area, including NorthShore Evanston Hospital and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He has helped thousands of families address allergies and asthma to live healthier, better lives. Dr. Detjen believes in Exhale – the product and the passionate team behind it. “I’m so thrilled that there’s finally a user-friendly solution for detecting allergens that trigger allergies and asthma,” Dr. Detjen says. “I know how stressful it is when your child can’t breathe easily. That’s why I am excited to be professionally involved with Exhale.”
Dr Paul Detjen
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