Asthma Patient Teaching: Information that Nurse Educators Should Teach
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Unfortunately, this does not apply to asthma patients.
Asthma is characterized by an inflammation or tightening of the bronchial tube passages. Though this can be curable, it affects more than 22 million Americans each year – 6 million of which are children. This is according to the findings of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
A typical asthma attack involves wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness or pain in the chest and profuse coughing. It occurs mostly at night or early in the morning. Recurrence of the symptoms is often a bad news, as it leads to deadly acute asthma attacks.
This is why doctors recommend attendance in nurse-patient teaching for patients to help them avoid asthma attacks.
It is vital that patients understand what is going on in their bodies.
Asthma attacks often lead individuals to feel threatened and nervous, thereby reducing their oxygen supply and making the attacks worse. Nurses should then explain the reason behind these occurrences and why they happen.
It is imperative that asthma patients be educated that they have the tendency to hyperventilate during an attack. This results to low carbon dioxide content in their lungs, which is a powerful bronchodilator.
Nurse educators should show patients how to battle this out and the means at which they can normalize their breathing patterns. Acquiring ample oxygen for their body dramatically improves the situation and their health state in the long run. Studies show that when an oxygen level of 20 is achieved, asthma symptoms are alleviated – even without taking medications or using the inhaler. These findings were actually certified genuine by Russian scientists who came up with the Boteyko breathing technique (now recognized by the Russian Ministry of Health).
Patients should have a clear idea on proper medications.
Relief from acute asthma attacks can only be achieved when the inflammation of the air passages is reduced, or the constriction of the bronchial tubes is loosened. The ultimate goal is to foster more oxygen intake into the lungs to give ample supply to the heart, brain and other organs.
Medications can help when breathing exercises no longer work.
But taking the drugs should be taken with caution. Nurses should be able to teach their patients on the proper medications in alleviating acute attacks. If the exacerbation extends for more than 5 minutes, for example, patients should take 1/3 of their prescribed medicine. Breathing exercises should follow.
If this does not work, patients should take another third of the medication and repeat the breathing exercises.
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute does not recommend that the drugs will be taken all at the same time. As such, patients and doctors should come up with pre-defined medication parameters and plans that set the ideal dose to be taken during the attack.
Nurses should help their patients to determine the factors that trigger asthma attacks.
Logically, something can be avoided by keeping out from those that cause it. This works in the cases of asthma attacks.
Patient teachings should involve an analysis of the common root of acute attacks. This would include poor air quality, cigarette smoke, pet dander and other air-borne allergens, excessive exercise, fatigue, infections, strong scent from cleaning agents, and thick air.
Nurse-Patient Educators should discuss the possible ways on how the patients can avoid these triggering factors: limiting hours inside the gym, spraying deodorizers, using oxygen tanks, or wearing face masks in crowded areas. They have to make sure that these methods will not drastically alter the patients’ lifestyle. A good asthma doctor strives to help the patients without necessarily overwhelming them.
Laying Out Signs of Acute Attacks
Just as said, acute asthma attacks can be life-threatening. There may be several ways to hamper an attack, but it is a must for the patients to call the attention of anyone who could call 911 just in case things get worst. Nurse-Patient Educators should then discuss the early signs of a significant asthma attack to allow the patients to call help promptly.
Decrease in the peak flow meter readings, immediate feeling of tiredness, and signs of allergies should raise a red flag. Sudden shortness of breath and profuse coughing should signal the need to take the patients to the nearest hospital.
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