More than twenty-five million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma, an often hereditary illness that threatens the lungs. If not treated by a health professional, uncontrolled asthma can be tragic. When an asthmatic spasm occurs in the bronchi of the lungs, trouble breathing commences.

When a patient is diagnosed with asthma, they are normally prescribed with an inhaler to use when an attack happens. There are different kinds of inhalers with varied components, so it often takes a series of trial-and-error before the right inhaler is found.

Once you’re comfortable with your inhaler, it’s important that you keep it nearby at all times. It can be easy to forget such a small object when you’re getting through a busy day, but the inhaler can save your life. Try to keep it in your pocket, or at least on the table where you can see it.

Humans are forgetful, though, and asthma attacks often begin with no warning. Sometimes they come when you are alone in the house, and the lack of oxygen to your brain makes decision making difficult. Keeping all of this in mind, what should you do if an asthma attack sets in and you can’t get to your inhaler?

First, identify whether you are having an asthma attack. Tightness in the chest, wheezing, and excessive coughing are signs that you’re having an asthma attack. In some cases, your nails or lips can turn pale or blue; at that point, you will need medical help.

If you don’t think you need to call for an ambulance, try these steps to calm the asthma attack: Sit up straight and focus on relaxing your muscles. When you feel that you can focus again, try making a cup of coffee; it has been suggested to have a stimulant effect that might help open airways. Hot tea and boiling water can also help.

While all of these things can help alleviate the symptoms of an asthma attack, we still suggest that you carry your inhaler with you wherever you go. None of these tips replace the security of the inhaler. With it, you prevent those moments of panic and possibly save your life.