4 Asthma Hacks If You're Caught Without an Inhaler

As an asthmatic, you're likely to keep your inhaler with you at all times. However, if the unforeseen happens and you're caught without your inhaler when you need it most, don't panic. Without your inhaler, a sudden asthma attack can be frightening, but you can help keep it under control by following these 4 steps.

Get away from the possible trigger

Asthma attacks can be triggered by many things such as physical exertion, exposure to dust or cigarette smoke and even emotional outbursts. The first and most important thing you can do is to remove yourself away from whatever may have triggered your attack as quickly as possible.

Whether your attack has been triggered by some form of air pollution or by laughing or exerting yourself too much, it's important that you respond in the same way and quickly to take your symptoms to a calmer and more manageable level. Breathe through a cloth or your sleeve to escape any nearby fumes and if you were exercising, stop immediately.

Try to remain calm

Once you've taken the initial step to escape your possible trigger, try to stay calm. This may seem hard at first, but it's such a vital step in the first throes of an asthma attack and can make all the difference between a moderate and a severe one.

Thinking through calming thoughts or engaging in meditation can be a good step towards feeling more relaxed. Since bending over or lying down constricts your breathing, sitting upright will also help dial things down. Thinking and faking that you feel calm (even if you don't) will gradually ease the tightness in your chest muscles and allow you to breathe easier and feel less constricted while doing so.

Use the Buteyko breathing technique

When you feel that you can focus on your breathing, it's time to shift gears and adopt a slower and more rhythmic breathing pattern. In the midst of an asthma attack, you can feel your pulse racing a mile a minute and each new breath has you gasping for air. If you continue breathing in this way, you will quickly cause yourself to hyperventilate. It is therefore vital at this stage to place all of your awareness into breathing via the Buteyko technique.

Developed in 1950s by the Russian doctor Konstantin Buteyko, this technique fights against the body's natural tendency to breathe hard during asthma and anxiety attacks. The Buteyko method instructs you to breathe slowly and shallowly through the nose. Focusing on breathing through the nose in this way helps break the dangerous cycle of increased heart rate and rapid gasps for air. Doing the opposite of this (hard, deep breathing) lowers the levels of carbon dioxide in your blood, which constricts your airways as it tries to conserve what's left.

Sip a hot drink

If you have managed to return to a more normal breathing pattern, but may still be experiencing chest tightness or wheezing, a hot cup of tea can have a very calming effect and serve as an effective remedy for asthma symptoms.

This is because hot liquids help to loosen the mucus in the lungs and bring down chest congestion to help you breathe more clearly. If hot drinks are not readily available to you during an asthma attack, take a hot bath or shower. The steam from this can also help to loosen the mucus and relax you, which in turn will help to relax your airways.

If you are still experiencing difficulty breathing or wheezing of any kind after taking these steps, seek medical help. As a precaution, it's a good idea to have the number of your local medical centre and family members on speed dial in the event of an unexpected asthma attack.