Asthma attack

An asthma attack (also called an acute asthma episode, flare-up, or exacerbation) is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, and coughing.

Although asthma attacks may seem to occur suddenly, they usually occur after several days of increasing symptoms. Symptoms may be mild, moderate, or severe. Episodes can be brief (about an hour) or last for several days.

Although asthma attacks can be serious, they can usually be treated at home by using quick-relief medicine and an increased dose of controller medicine. In severe asthma attacks, it may be necessary to contact a health professional or seek emergency care.

Last Updated: April 21, 2009

Author: Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Harold S. Nelson, MD - Allergy and Immunology

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