When to Visit the ER for Severe Asthma Symptoms


Aug 30, 2023


Experiencing severe asthma symptoms can be a scary situation, especially when you haven’t experienced asthma symptoms before. Even if you utilize your inhaler or take your medication, a severe asthma attack can still persist which turns the situation into a medical emergency.

Is severe asthma life-threatening? Asthma attacks can be life-threatening which is why spotting the dangerous symptoms early and seeking medical help is crucial. Severe asthma symptoms include intense shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, gasping for air, chest tightness, and the lips and fingernails turning blue.

The medical professionals at Complete Care freestanding ERs are here to help you better understand how to spot severe asthma symptoms, when to go to the ER for an asthma attack, and how to prevent asthma attacks in the future.

What causes asthma attacks 

Asthma is a chronic lung condition that causes a person’s airways to become inflamed and narrowed, making it difficult for a person to get air to their lungs. Asthma symptoms are typically caused by some type of allergen in the air, such as pollen, but some patients can experience asthma attacks with other triggers such as breathing in too much cold air. Asthma as a condition can develop early in children, but adults can also develop asthma later in life. 

Asthma risk factors

There are several risk factors that can contribute to a person suffering from an asthma attack:

  1. Environmental factors: This includes poor air quality due to pollution, exposure to cigarette smoke, pet dander, pollen, ragweed, substantial amounts of dust, cold weather, or being exposed to irritants on a regular basis while at work.
  2. Medical conditions. People who suffer from allergies experience infections of the respiratory tract, and people who are obese are more prone to obstructed airways.
  3. Family history. If your parents (or a parent) suffer from asthma attacks, there’s a higher likelihood that you will do so as well. Knowing your family health history can be very beneficial when diagnosing chronic conditions such as asthma. 

The complications of asthma are unfortunately a long laundry list of the ways this condition impacts your physical and mental health. Managing your asthma and its symptoms is the best way to ensure that you don’t have to visit the emergency room — however, there are some cases where your symptoms are so severe that medical intervention is necessary. 

Severe asthma symptoms: When to go to the ER

An important fact to remember is that severe asthma symptoms often share the same list of mild to moderate asthma symptoms. The main difference is that these symptoms become severe, and therefore a medical emergency, when the symptoms do not subside after using your inhaler or taking the proper medication that usually keeps your asthma under control. 

Here are signs of severe asthma symptoms to watch out for:

It’s also important to note that asthma symptoms in children are similar to severe asthma symptoms in adults. If your child is experiencing any form of the symptoms listed above, take them to an emergency room as soon as possible. 

What will the ER do for a severe asthma attack?

Asthma emergency treatment will depend on your history of asthma attacks, the symptoms you’re currently experiencing, and your possible triggers. Once you arrive at a Complete Care ER facility, our medical staff assess you to see if any immediate action is needed. In some cases, a nebulizer is used to open your airways or medicine will be administered through an inhaler. 

If you are able to speak and are stable, our staff will ask you questions about how often you have asthma attacks, your medicine history, and what your possible triggers are. All of this information will help your doctor narrow down triggers and what type of asthma you’re suffering from. 

How to prevent asthma attacks 

Although it can seem impossible at times, there are several ways to lower the risk of getting an asthma attack. Here are some easy tips to follow for asthma attack prevention:

  • Avoid triggers when possible. 
  • Change the air filters in your air conditioner once a month.
  • If you live in a cold climate, wear a face mask when going outside in the winter.
  • If you live in a humid climate, install a dehumidifier in your home.
  • If you have any pets, get them groomed regularly.
  • When cleaning your home, pay close attention to the kitchen and bathrooms to prevent mold growth.
  • Maintain a healthy weight, since being overweight can worsen symptoms.

If you live with asthma, these small lifestyle changes and habits can make a big difference in your day-to-day life. However, even with the best prevention strategies, asthma attacks can happen. So, rely on Complete Care to help you when you’re in need. 

Complete Care can help with severe asthma symptoms 

Knowing how to spot severe asthma symptoms as a way to know when you need to seek medical attention can be a life-saving skill. Although asthma is a common condition, complications of asthma should not be overlooked. Monitor your symptoms and triggers carefully so that you can live a long and healthy life.

If you find yourself in need of asthma emergency treatment, Complete Care is here for you 24/7. We have multiple ER locations in Texas (Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas, Lubbock, and San Antonio) and in Colorado Springs with a medical staff that is trained to help people with asthma treat and better manage their symptoms. If you need to know how to properly use your inhaler or how to get rid of chest pain, we’ve got you covered. You can trust us with your asthma care. 

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