Asthma Attacks

An asthma attack can be a frightening and dangerous experience. They can happen out of the blue or when symptoms have been getting worse for a few hours or even days.

Woman with asthma symptoms

Signs Your Asthma is Getting Worse

Proper asthma management reduces the risk of an asthma attack but one can still occur even if you’re taking your medication as prescribed and avoiding triggers.

If you suspect that you or someone else is having an asthma attack you should take immediate action.If your asthma is getting worse it usually happens gradually over a few days but can sometimes come out of the blue.  To make sure you act fast keep an eye out for the following signs that your asthma is getting worse:

  • Cough
  • Wheeze
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Too breathless to finish a sentence
  • Too breathless to walk, sleep or eat
  • Lips turning blue
  • Needing more reliever inhaler than usual (or more than twice a week)

If you notice any of these signs that your asthma is getting worse, do not ignore them - get medical advice!

What to Do in An Asthma Attach- Follow the 5 Step Rule

This is an emergency - act now.


1. Stay calm. Sit up straight - do not lie down.

2. Take slow steady breaths.

3. Take one puff of your reliever inhaler (usually blue) every minute.

Use a spacer if available.

                People over 6 years can take up to 10 puffs in 10 minutes.

                Children under 6 can take up to 6 puffs in 10 minutes.

4. Call 112 or 999 if your symptoms do not improve after 10 minutes.

5 Repeat step 3 if an ambulance has not arrived in 10 minutes.


Remember if someone is having an asthma attack:

Do not leave them on their own.

Extra puffs of reliever inhaler (usually blue) are safe.


If you are admitted to hospital or an accident and emergency department because of your asthma, take details of your treatment with you. Bring your asthma management plan if you have one to the hospital. You should also make an appointment with your doctor or nurse after you are discharged from hospital, so that you can review your asthma treatment to avoid the situation arising again.

Man with asthma symptoms

Do's & Dont's in An Asthma Attack

Don't put your arm around or lie down someone having an asthma attack, this will make it harder for them to breath.

Don't worry about using too much reliever; it is safe to take extra puffs of reliever during an asthma attack.

Don't leave the person having the attack on their own.

Don't take the person having the attack to hospital in your own car unless absolutely necessary; another adult should accompany you.

Do use a spacer device if one is available.

Do listen to what the person having the asthma attack is saying, they have experienced attacks before.

What to do in an Asthma Attack - Child under 6 version

What to do in an Asthma Attack - Adult Version