There may be times when you will need to go to hospital because of your asthma. It might be for an asthma attack or because your asthma flare-up is not getting better, even though you’re following your Asthma Action Plan.
Going to hospital for asthma is a really worrying time for everyone – including parents, carers and loved ones – no matter how old you are. And we understand time away from family, school or work while in hospital can be stressful.
Was There Any Warning?
Sometimes an asthma attack or flare-up can happen very quickly with little or no warning. Other times, there are signs and symptoms that may be easy to miss.
One warning sign your asthma may be flaring up is if you start waking at night or earlier in the morning than usual due to your asthma. Another thing to watch out for is needing to use your reliever medicine more often over a month.
Having an asthma flare-up or attack that needs a hospital visit should act as warning sign for you and your doctors. Having asthma needs to be taken seriously. Don’t ignore your asthma – it might take a holiday, but it will never go away!
Always book in to see your doctor soon after an asthma attack or flare-up.
Talking with one of our Asthma Educators about your visit to hospital can be helpful to know what to ask your doctor at your next appointment.
Review, Maintain, Recover
Click the dropdowns below to learn how to review, maintain and recover after a hospital visit:
- Book an urgent Asthma Review within 3 days of leaving hospital even if you feel better – this is to make sure you are not at risk of another flare-up and make sure you are confident with all the information from the hospital.
- Follow-up 2-4 weeks later – this is to make sure your asthma is back on track and discuss any changes to your regular medications that are needed to prevent another flare-up.
What do I talk to my doctor about?
Your doctor will ask about your asthma symptoms. It may take some time to fully recover back to good asthma control. Good asthma control means that your asthma symptoms are less frequent and less severe. Some questions you can ask your doctor about Asthma Control are:
- “Why did I have an asthma attack?”
- “What put me at risk?”
- “How long will it take until I feel better?”
If you have been given any new medicines in hospital, let your doctor know about them. Check how long you are supposed to continue using them and if you will need a repeat prescription. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to show you how to use your asthma puffers when you pick up your script.
Some questions you can ask your doctor about Medicine Changes are:
- “What are these new medicines?”
- “How do I use them?”
All adults and children with asthma should have a written Asthma Action Plan. You might have been given an interim Asthma Action Plan by the hospital. Ask your doctor to write down how often and when to use your asthma medicines on your own Asthma Action Plan.
Some questions you can ask your doctor about Asthma Action Plans are:
- “When and how often do I use my asthma medicines?”
- “How long do I keep using this medication?”
MAINTAIN – Keep taking your asthma medicines
Avoid another asthma attack, by taking your asthma medicines prescribed by your doctor:
If prescribed Steroid Tablets (oral corticosteroids): complete the course as directed. A usual course is 3 days for children and between 5-10 days for adults.
You may notice these possible side effects:
- Mood changes, sleeplessness
- Appetite changes, which could include: nausea/feeling sick in the tummy, constipation or diarrhoea/runny tummy
These side effects are usually short-lasting and usually will go away once you finish the course. But repeated courses increase the chance side effects will persist. So its important you get your asthma back under control so you can avoid the need for more steroid tablets in the future.
Keep taking your prescribed Preventer inhaler, even if you have a prescribed course of steroid tablets.
If you don’t have a preventer, or haven’t been using it, talk to your doctor about finding one that suits you. If your preventer has changed or dose altered, make sure it is written on your asthma action plan. Remember to gargle, rinse and spit after using your preventer.
Use your Reliever medicine when you need to.
It’s likely that you have been using more of your reliever. This increase may cause you to experience:
- feeling shaky/agitated or restless
- increased heart rate or
- feeling sick in the tummy
These side effects should only be temporary. If they concern you, tell your doctor about them and ask their advice.
It’s important that you reduce your reliever use again once symptoms have improved. Long term regular use of relievers (more than two days a week) is a clear sign that your asthma is not controlled and you are at risk of further flare-ups.
Use your spacer with your puffers
After using a preventer, always rinse your mouth, gargle, and spit. This also helps to avoid side-effects in your mouth from medicine left in your mouth.
You may feel emotionally and physically tired or exhausted after an asthma attack. Everyone reacts in different ways to stressful situations. It’s important to know that your path to recovery is more than just a return to your usual breathing patterns.
This could be due to disrupted night-time sleep from asthma symptoms. Or as a result from a late-night visit to a hospital or emergency department. Rest as much as possible.
- Aches and Pains
Using a lot of different muscles to help you breathe may result in aches and pains. If you need to, don’t be afraid to ask friends or family for help at home.
- Emotionally Fragile
You may have felt quite scared or frightened by the feelings you experienced. Having these responses is normal but could make you feel a bit worn out or exhausted. If you need to talk to someone about your feelings, reach out to a close family member or friend for support. You can also call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for immediate support from a trained counsellor, or text them on 0477131114.
- Change in Appetite
Steroid tablets can sometimes affect your appetite. Fuel your body with healthy food options, like eating plenty of fruit and vegetables every day. Drink plenty of water. Try not to rely on processed or take-away foods that are high in saturated fats.
- Activity levels
Symptoms with exercise are often the last to go away after an asthma attack or flare-up. Build up your activity level slowly. Always keep your reliever puffer with you in case you need it. You can also talk to your doctor about using a reliever before activities to prevent asthma symptoms.
- Plan ahead
Have you arranged your next doctor’s appointment for an asthma review? Asthma flare-ups can be a sign that your asthma treatment is not working for you and needs adjusting by your doctor. Make sure you have your review appointment 2 weeks after an asthma flare-up to follow up on your recovery and help prevent future flare ups. Once you have recovered ask your doctor about having a lung function test (spirometry) to check your lung health.
- Breathe Better
Try practicing some breathing exercises while you recover. These simple exercises may help you improve your breathing pattern and feel less breathless. See exercises here: Would you like to Breathe Better?
Been to hospital with your child?
We know that it can be scary when you need to take your child to hospital, especially when they are so little or if it’s their first time. If your child has been diagnosed with asthma or suspected asthma, we recommend taking the following actions.
Learn Asthma First Aid.
Ask your doctor about how to manage your child’s worsening symptoms. Questions you might like to ask include:
- What should I do if my child’s symptoms get worse?
- How much asthma medicine can I use for my child and how will I know if it’s working?
- Have all these instructions written on their Asthma Action Plan.
Treat their symptoms and their allergies. Don’t forget to keep treating their asthma with their preventer, if prescribed. Follow your child’s Asthma Action Plan. See your doctor at the first signs of a flare-up or if you are unsure what to do. Always see your doctor soon after your child has had asthma attack or flare-up. If you are worried about your child’s asthma or asthma-like symptoms, talk with one of our Asthma Educators who can help you create a list of questions to take to your doctor.
What can you do to avoid another asthma hospital visit?
There are a few things that can help you gain better control of your or your child’s asthma, making it less likely you need to go to hospital. These include:
- Regularly visit your doctor just to talk about your asthma.
- Make sure your puffer technique is checked by your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
- Use your preventer medicine every day if prescribed, even when feeling well.
- Avoid things that triggers your symptoms when possible.
- Treat your symptoms early.