Asthma Attack – A guide to first aid and emergency care for asthma

Asthma can be an emergency. A sudden or severe asthma flare-up is sometimes called an asthma attack.

An asthma flare-up is a worsening of asthma symptoms and lung function compared to what you would usually experience day to day. An asthma flare-up can come on slowly, over hours, days or even weeks, or very quickly, over minutes.

If you or someone you care for are experiencing any of these signs, start asthma first aid.

Do not wait until asthma is severe.

Click here to view Asthma Emergency steps for Bricanyl turbuhalers & Symbicort SMART.

After Hospital

Having an asthma attack and ending up in an Emergency Department can be a scary and confronting experience.

If your asthma is landing you in hospital, it means your asthma is not under control. Download our After Hospital Asthma Pack including the Interim Action Plan and watch our Asthma Emergency Discharge video to help get your asthma back on track.

Signs and symptoms

Mild to Moderate
  • Minor difficulty breathing
  • May have a cough
  • May have a wheeze
  • Cannot speak a full sentence
  • Sitting hunched forward
  • Tugging in of skin over chest/ throat
  • May have a cough or wheeze
  • Obvious difficulty breathing
  • Lethargic
  • Sore tummy(young children)
  • Unable to speak or 1-2 words
  • Collapsed/exhausted
  • gasping for breath
  • may no longer have a cough or wheeze
  • Drowsy/ confused/ unconscious
  • Skin Discoloration (blue lips)


Click here to access Asthma First Aid information.