Wilderness Medicine, First Aid, and Outdoor Skills
Asthma

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US Army First Aid Manual
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Appendix A: First Aid Case and Kits, Dressings, and Bandages
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Appendix C: Common Problems/Conditions
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Appendix E: Decontamination Procedures
Appendix F: Glossary


Introduction

For the purposes of Survive Outdoors, discussion of asthma will be limited to basic information.

Many of you of course are aware that asthma is a spasm of the bronchial tree, which causes wheezing and, in severe forms, causes individuals to be quite frightened, since they feel like they cannot catch their breath.

Asthma is broken down into two types:

  1. Exertion or exercise induced.
  2. Allergen induced.

Wheezing can be triggered by not only cold air, but by allergens from many sources including a variety of fauna, campfires, dust, and any airborne allergen that one could possibly encounter in the outdoors. If a predisposition to asthma is known to exist, precautions should always be taken, as one does not know when they are going to suffer an asthma attack. Individuals can still enjoy campfires, but should stay a distance away to avoid smoke inhalation. ALWAYS carry an MDI inhaler! We suggest carrying a Beta-agonist metered dose inhaler, a 2-week course of Prednisone, and a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

Proper usage of an inhaler

Proper usage of an inhaler is extremely important. During the last 10-15 years of practicing medicine, I have seen numerous individuals who have actually been taught incorrectly or have not been taught at all by their healthcare providers, regarding the proper usage of a metered dose inhaler. Even though an aero-chamber is very bulky, it is of the utmost importance in terms of increasing the efficacy of the medication. If an aero-chamber is not available, the inhaler should be kept approximately 1” away from your mouth when using it. By putting the inhaler on your mouth, 60-70% of the medication gets caught on the roof of your mouth and tongue, and does not get into your lungs.

 

References:

1. Paul S. Auerbach, Wilderness Medicine




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