Asthma – First Aid

What is an asthma attack?

An asthma attack is where the muscles of the air passages in the lungs go into spasm, narrowing the airways, making it difficult to breathe. There are many different triggers, including allergens such as pollen, dust mites, animal fur, colds/flu and airborne irritants such as cigarette smoke, chemical fumes and atmospheric pollution.

How to recognise an asthma attack

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Wheezing.
  • Difficulty speaking – leading to short sentences/whispering.
  • Coughing.
  • Distress and anxiety.

How to treat an asthma attack

  • Keep calm and reassure the casualty.
  • Get them to use their reliever inhaler – which should usually have a blue cap. Preventer inhalers, which often have brown or white caps shouldn’t be used during an asthma attack.
  • If this is their first attack or they don’t have a reliever inhaler, call 999/112 for emergency help.
  • Get them to sit down in the position in which they are most comfortable. Don’t let them lie down as this can make breathing more difficult.
  • A mild attack should ease after a few minutes. If it doesn’t, get them to use their reliever inhaler again.

If the attack is severe, or getting worse call 999/112 for emergency help.

Whilst waiting for emergency help to arrive, keep the casualty comfortable and supported and reassure them that help is on its way.

Find out more about asthma here:

This isn’t a substitute for first aid training. If you’d like to be able to deal with a variety of first aid issues with confidence, book a first aid course in Newcastle, the North East or wherever you need us! Get in touch for more information.