Breathing Problems: Asthma, a Chronic Lung Condition

Breathing should be effortless, but for millions with asthma, it's a constant challenge. Asthma, marked by inflamed airways, is just one cause of respiratory distress. Heart attacks, allergies, and other factors can also hinder breathing. Recognizing distress signals becomes crucial, guiding timely interventions that can save lives.

Inhalers offer swift relief, but knowing how to use them correctly is essential. With knowledge and readiness, we can provide vital aid during respiratory emergencies, offering support and potentially saving lives. Join us in this blog article as we explore asthma, inhaler use, and essential first aid, empowering ourselves to navigate crises with confidence and care.

Asthma, a Chronic Lung Condition

Asthma is a chronic lung condition that affects the airways and is characterized by inflammation and the narrowing of air passages, making it difficult to breathe.

It is often caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors (physical exercise, stress, fatigue, allergens, tobacco smoke, cold air, air pollution, etc.).

Asthma presents with signs like difficulty breathing, often with a wheezing sound. Persistent coughing and chest tightness are common. Fatigue may occur, limiting one's ability to engage in regular activities.

What causes Asthma

Other Factors can also Impact Respiratory Function

While asthma is a well-known factor contributing to breathing difficulties, it's important to recognize that various other circumstances can also impact respiratory function.

Someone having a heart attack, a stroke, a severe allergic reaction, or experiencing certain illnesses or injuries may also have breathing problems.

How to Recognize recognize Distress?

Recognizing respiratory distress involves being attentive to specific signs that indicate difficulty breathing. Here are key signs to look out for:

  • Rapid or slow breathing: an unusual breathing rate, quicker or slower than normal.
  • Shortness of breath: difficulty breathing or a feeling of breathlessness, even at rest.
  • Cyanosis: Bluish discoloration of the lips, face, or extremities suggests inadequate oxygenation and is a critical sign of respiratory distress.
  • Noisy breathing: you hear a sound or whistle as the air enters or leaves the lungs.
  • Inability to speak: can only make sounds or speak no more than a few words at a time in between breaths, although the person is trying to say more.
  • Chest pain: Pain or discomfort in the chest area.
  • Coughing: The person experiences frequent or persistent coughing, which can be a symptom of various respiratory conditions, including infections, asthma, or bronchitis.
  • Confusion or altered mental status: insufficient oxygen supply can affect cognitive function, leading to confusion or changes in consciousness.
How to recognize respiratory distress

NOTEIf you recognize the signs and symptoms of severe respiratory distress, reassure and help them find a comfortable position. If they have medication, assist them in taking it, and call your emergency phone number ( in Thailand) immediately.

What is an Inhaler Medicine?

Someone with a medical condition involving breathing problems, such as asthma, usually knows about the condition and what to do. He often carries inhaler medicine, which can help him breathe more easily within minutes of using it.

Inhalers consist of two or three components:

  • The medicine canister holds the prescribed medication, typically in aerosol form.
  • The mouthpiece is the interface through which the user inhales the medication. Users must place their lips around the mouthpiece, ensuring a proper seal for efficient inhalation.
  • A spacer can be affixed to facilitate easier inhalation of the medication for individuals experiencing breathing difficulties (usually used for children or the eldery).

At times, the person can have such a hard time breathing that he needs help using his inhaler. For this reason, you should be ready to assemble the inhaler and help him use it.

How to Assemble the Inhaler?

The following action steps will show you how to assemble an inhaler:

  1. First, check the date of expiration of the medicine on the canister
  2. Put the medicine canister into the mouthpiece.
  3. Remove the cap from the mouthpiece.
  4. Attach a spacer if there is one available and if you know how.
  5. Shake the medicine.

How to Use an Inhaler?

The following action steps will show you how to use an inhaler:

  1. Prepare the inhaler: Remove the cap from the inhaler and shake it well to ensure the medication is properly mixed.
  2. Breathe out: Exhale fully to empty your lungs as much as possible.
  3. Place the inhaler or spacer in the mouth: Place the mouthpiece between your lips, making sure to create a tight seal to prevent medication from escaping.
  4. Inhale slowly: Start to breathe in slowly and deeply through your mouth.
  5. Push down on the medicine canister: As you start inhaling, press down on the canister to release one puff of medication into your lungs.
  6. Hold your breath: After taking a deep breath, hold your breath for about 10 seconds to allow the medication to reach deep into your airways.
  7. Exhale slowly: breathe out slowly through your mouth.
  8. Repeat if necessary: Wait about 1 minute before taking another puff, following the same steps as before.
Steps for using an inhaler medicine

NOTE: Follow your healthcare provider's instructions and the instructions provided with the inhaler. Keep your inhaler clean and properly maintained. Keep track of how many doses you have used so you know when it's time to refill your prescription.

First Aid Action Steps for Breathing Difficulties

If someone is having breathing problems, follow these first aid action steps to help him.

  1. Make sure the scene is safe: Before approaching the victim, assess the scene for any potential hazards to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
  2. Ask permission to help: Obtain the person's consent before to help.
  3. Position for comfort: Help the person find a comfortable position that aids breathing.
  4. Reassure the person: Reassuring someone experiencing distress may ease their breathing difficulties to some extent.
  5. Ask them what the problem is: If the person can talk, inquire about the nature of their issue, ask them if they have any pre-existing medical condition.
  6. Look for any medical information jewelry: This tells you if the person has a serious medical condition.
  7. Help them take their medication: If the person is on medication and requires it, assisting them in taking it promptly can help improve their condition.
    1. Ask if they have medicine.
    2. If they have medicine, get it for them.
    3. If they use an inhaler, assemble and help them use it.
  8. Call for help: Call your local emergency number ( in Thailand) immediately if
    1. The person has a low level of consciousness.
    2. The person has an altered mental status.
    3. The person has trouble speaking,
    4. The person has no medicine or cannot take his medicine,
    5. The person does not get better after using his medicine,
    6. The person's breathing gets worse,
    7. The person becomes unresponsive.
  9. Monitor and stay with the person: Remain with the person experiencing respiratory distress until emergency help arrives.
First Aid actions for breathing problems

NOTE: Avoid moving a person experiencing respiratory distress unnecessarily. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid moving the person, as movement may exacerbate their condition. Wait for trained medical professionals to assess and transport the individual safely.


    Understanding the complexities of asthma and other conditions that impact respiratory function is crucial for managing and providing appropriate care during breathing difficulties. Recognizing signs of respiratory distress, such as rapid breathing, cyanosis, and confusion, can prompt timely intervention. Proper use of inhalers, including assembly and administration, is essential for alleviating symptoms in individuals with asthma.

    Moreover, being prepared to assist someone experiencing breathing problems by following first aid steps—such as ensuring the scene is safe, offering reassurance, helping with medication, and calling for emergency assistance—can significantly improve outcomes and potentially save lives. Awareness and preparedness are key components in effectively managing respiratory emergencies.