Even with the best efforts to manage asthma well, there are sometimes situations that need urgent first aid for asthma symptoms.
|An asthma attack is an emergency – act quickly|
If a young child 5 years or younger is having an asthma attack
- In young children asthma symptoms may become worse very quickly.
- In some children, a change of behaviour may be an indication of worsening asthma.
- Learn more about an asthma emergency action plan for children 5 years of age and under.
If an older child, teenager or adult is having an asthma attack
Children 5 years and older, teenagers and adults
If someone is having an asthma attack, follow the 'ASTHMA' acronym
A = Assess
Assess how severe the asthma attack is:
If the person has severe asthma or is frightened, call an ambulance on 111.
S = Sit
Sit the person upright and stay with them. Reassure them calmly.
T = Treat
With reliever inhalers: Symbicort, Vannair, DuoResp Spiromax, Ventolin, Respigen, SalAir or Bricanyl.
Treatment depends on how severe the asthma attack is.
H = Help
If the person is not improving, call an ambulance immediately on 111. Continue to use the reliever inhaler every few minutes until help arrives.
M = Monitor
If the person is improving, keep monitoring them. If necessary, repeat doses of the reliever inhaler.
A = All OK!
When the person is free of wheeze, cough or breathlessness, they can return to quiet activity.
If symptoms recur, repeat treatment and rest. It is important to always see a doctor after an asthma attack.
The following links has more information about asthma first aid.
Asthma action plans – adults
Asthma action plans – children
Asthma emergency action plan for children 5 years of age and under Asthma New Zealand and the Lung Association, NZ
- Asthma first aid Asthma and Respiratory Foundation, NZ
- What to do in an asthma emergency Asthma New Zealand
|Teresa Demetriou is the head of education and research at the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ and co-author of the Child and Adolescent Asthma Guidelines. As a registered nurse with a wide range of experience in primary health, respiratory healthcare and education, she is responsible for ensuring that evidence-based best practice is implemented into all of the Foundation’s training, guidelines and resources.|