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.

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 of flare up

Mild to Moderate
  • Minor difficulty breathing
  • Able to talk in full sentences
  • May cough or wheeze
  • Able to walk and move around

Ask the person if they have asthma and if they need help? If so, assist the person with Asthma First Aid.

  • Obvious difficulty breathing
  • Cannot speak a full sentence in one breath
  • Needing reliever again within 3 hours
  • Tugging in of skin between ribs or at base of neck
  • May have a cough or wheeze
  • Lethargic
  • Sore tummy (young children)

Call Ambulance on 000

Commence Asthma First Aid

  • Gasping for breath
  • Unable to speak or 1-2 words per breath
  • Not responding to reliever medication
  • May no longer have a cough or wheeze
  • Drowsy / confused / exhausted
  • Collapsed / unconscious
  • Skin Discoloration (blue lips)

Call Ambulance on 000

Asthma First Aid 

Click here to access Asthma First Aid information.