Managing asthma emergencies

An asthma flare-up can happen to anyone with asthma at any time. They can build slowly over time or quickly in a matter of minutes – some people call this an asthma attack. Asthma flare-ups can also develop more slowly (over hours to days or even weeks).

Asthma first aid can save someone’s life – do not wait until asthma is severe to start first aid. Every second counts.

Begin asthma first aid if a person has asthma symptoms of:

  • Breathlessness
  • Wheezing
  • Tight chest
  • Persistent cough

Call an ambulance (dial 000) when the symptoms become severe or life-threatening. Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty breathing such as gasping for breath
  • Pale/sweaty/blue lips
  • May be confused or exhausted, distressed and panicky
  • Inability to speak more than one or two words per breath
  • Sucking in of skin over ribs/throat (tracheal tug) in children
  • No or little response to reliever medication

Asthma First Aid

If you or someone you know is experiencing an asthma flare-up, even if only mild, commence Asthma First Aid immediately.