What should I do if I, or someone else, is having an asthma attack?

It’s important for everyone in the community to know the four steps of asthma first aid. The most common symptoms of asthma are wheezing, shortness of breath, a tight feeling in the chest and a persistent cough. If you think someone is having an asthma attack:

Step 1: Sit the person upright

Step 2: Give 4 separate puffs of blue or grey reliever puffer – make sure you shake the puffer, put 1 puff into the spacer and get the person to take 4 breaths from the spacer. Repeat this until the person has taken 4 puffs.

(If you don’t have a spacer, simply inhale 4 puffs directly by mouth).

Remember: shake, 1 puff, 4 breaths.

Step 3: Wait 4 minutes. If there is no improvement, give the person 4 more separate puffs as in step 2.

Remember: shake, 1 puff, 4 breaths.

Step 4: If there is still no improvement dial triple zero (000) for an ambulance. Keep giving the person 4 separate puffs every 4 minutes until emergency assistance arrives.

Call  triple zero (000) immediately if the person is not breathing, if their asthma suddenly becomes worse, or if the person is having an asthma attack and there’s no blue or grey reliever available.

If you’re not sure that it’s asthma, call  triple zero (000) immediately.

Remember that asthma reliever medication used in an emergency is unlikely to cause harm, even if the person doesn’t have asthma.

Refer to the asthma first aid poster or watch the short animation at betterhealth.vic.gov.au.

This information is copyright (disclaimer & copyright).
Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part maybe reproduced by any process without prior written permission from
the University of Melbourne, Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to Associate Professor Ed Newbigin
School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne. Phone: +61 3 8344 4871.