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. 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.
Signs Your Asthma is Getting Worse
If your asthma is getting worse it usually happens gradually over a few days but can sometimes come out of the blye. To make sure you act fast keep an eye out for the following signs that your asthma is getting worse:
- 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)
- 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
Don't hesitate to call 999 or 112 for help at any stage, if you're worried. It's always better to be safe!
- Take two puffs of reliever inhaler (usually blue) immediately
- Sit upright and stay calm
- Take slow steady breaths
- If there is no immediate improvement take one puff of reliever inhaler every minute (An adult can take up to 10 puffs in ten minutes - Children under 6 years can take up to 6 puffs in ten minutes)
- Call 999 or 112 if symptoms do not improve after following steps 1 -4
If an ambulance does not arrive within 10 minutes repeat Step 4.
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
Do's & Don'ts 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.
Dolisten to what the person having the asthma attack is saying, they have experienced attacks before.