Asthma Attacks

Blue Reliever Inhaler

Signs Your Asthma is Getting Worse

Occasionally an asthma attack may occur no matter how careful you are about taking your asthma treatment and avoiding triggers.

If your asthma is getting worse it usually happens gradually over a few days and rarely comes out of the blue.  To make sure you act fast keep an eye out for the following signs that your asthma is getting worse:

  • an increase in the frequency or severity of your symptoms (cough, breathlessness, wheeze or chest tightness)
  • needing more reliever inhaler than usual
  • waking at night because of your symptoms
  • not able to be as active as usual
  • a drop in your peak flow reading
  • unable to walk as far or as quickly as usual or becoming short of breath when you do

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 Attack - the Five Step Rule

During an Asthma Attack - Follow the Five Step Rule

  1. Take two puffs of reliever inhaler (usually blue) immediately
  2. Sit upright and stay calm
  3. Take slow steady breaths
  4. If there is no immediate improvement take one puff of reliever inhaler every minute (You can take up to 10 puffs in ten minutes - Children under 6 years can take up to 6 puffs in ten minutes)
  5. Call 999 or 112 if symptoms do not improve after following steps 1 -4 OR if you are in worried

If an ambulance does not arrive within 10 minutes repeat Step 4.

Don't put your arm around me or lie me down - this will restrict my breathing.

Don't worry about giving me too much reliever - during an asthma attack extra puffs of reliever medication are safe.

Do use a spacer device if one is available.

Do listen to what I am saying - I have had attacks before.

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 rising again.

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