Is A Friend Having An Asthma Attack - And What To Do About It!

Posted by Proparamedics

12 March 2019

Asthma is a common respiratory condition which affects and inflames the airways, making it difficult to manage normal breathing at certain times and in certain conditions.

Asthma is often seen as a childhood illness which many people ‘grow out of’, but there are many adult asthma sufferers in the UK. In fact, for many people asthma is a lifelong condition - and one which cannot be cured.


DID YOU KNOW - There are almost 6 million asthma sufferers in the UK?

Many people with asthma have a mild form of it and never experience an asthma attack, whilst there are some people who’s life is very limited due to severe asthma. About 17 per cent of people with asthma have difficulty breathing almost all of the time and may often have potentially life-threatening asthma attacks. Needless to say an asthma attack can be a very scary and alarming thing for a person to experience.
Whilst most people with a serious asthma condition carry their inhaler(s) around with them and can manage the condition, there are times when a sufferer can be caught unawares, or have such a serious attack that an inhaler fails to help them. Vigorous exercise, a bad cold and being in a smokey or dusty atmosphere are some of the common causes of asthma attacks.

Shockingly, 1 in 3 people in the UK die from an asthma attack each day. (Source: Asthma UK).

How to spot an asthma attack
When an asthma attack strikes, the sufferer may not be in a fit state to ask for help or explain what is wrong. Their airways will have narrowed and become constricted leaving them breathless (and probably extremely anxious too!). You may start to notice they are taking very short fast breaths.
Key Warning signs
  • Breathlessness
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness of chest
  • Bouts of coughing
  • Cyanosis (grey/blue lips and skin)

How To Help During An Asthma Attack
You do not need to be a helpless bystander - if you think someone is having an asthma attack… Act quickly and you should be able to ease the discomfort they are suffering.
  • If possible lead them to a safe place where they can sit upright in a quiet, stress free environment
  • Speak softly and calmly so as not to panic them further
  • Ask/Look for any inhalers them may have and help them to use them. One puff of the reliever inhaler (blue in colour) every 30-60 seconds is the recommended.
  • Call the emergency services if you are unable to find an inhaler, their breathing gets progressively worse or they continue to struggle for breath.
We hope you have found this information useful. The Proparamedics Training & Education Centre offer a wide range of first aid training courses ranging from First Aid At Work and First Aid For Sport to First Responder Emergency Care and Safeguarding training. Please download a copy of our free Guide To Safeguarding Your Sport Club by clicking the link below or get in touch with the team to find out more.