How To Survive An Asthma Attach Without an Inhaler

Table of Contents

Understanding an Asthma Attack

Asthma is a condition caused by an allergic reaction in the lungs, often to substances such as dust, traffic fumes, or pollen.

Muscles surrounding the bronchioles go into spasm and constrict, making it very difficult for the patient to breathe.

Most asthma patients carry medication around with them, usually in the form of an inhaler. Ask the patient. The blue inhaler is for relieving an attack, dilating the bronchioles to relieve the condition.

An asthma attack is a traumatic experience for the patient, especially a child, so reassurance and a calm approach from the First Aider is essential. If the patient is not reassured and calmed down by the First Aider, an attack can lead on to “hyperventilation’ after the inhaler has relieved the constricted airways.

asthma attack

Possible Signs and Symptoms of Asthma Attack.

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • wheezy breath sounds, originating from the lungs.
  • Difficulty speaking (will need to take a breath in the middle of a sentence).
  • Pale, clammy skin,
  • Grey or blue lips and skin (cyanosis).
  • Use of muscles in the neck and upper chest to help the casualty breathe. Casualty will become exhausted in a severe attack.
  • May become unconscious and stop breathing in a prolonged attack.


  1. Help the casualty to sit upright, leaning on a table or chair if necessary.
  2. Help the casualty to use their reliever inhaler. This can be repeated every few minutes if the attack does not ease.
  3. Call 999/112 for emergency help if the casualty does not have their inhaler or its not having an effect
  4. Try to take the casualty’s mind off the attack – be calm, reassuring and make a light conversation.
  5. If the attack is prolonged, severe, appears to be 4 # getting worse, or the casualty is becoming exhausted; dial for an ambulance.
  6. Cold winter air can make an attack worse, so don’t take the casualty outside for fresh air.
  7. Keep the casualty upright even they become too weak to sit up on their own. Only lay an asthma attack patient down if they become unconscious.
  8. Be prepared to carry out resuscitation

NB; An upright sitting position usually helps the patient to breathe more easily.

How To Stop An Asthma Attack Without An Inhaler

Being without your inhaler during an asthma attack can be a frightening experience but there are things that you can do to calm yourself down and get your breathing back under control after the attack is over. You may want to consider ways to prevent or at least reduce your asthma attacks in the future.

Asthma attacks lasts for about five to ten minutes so take a second to look at a clock and note the time. Suppose that you have not gotten your breathing back into a normal pattern within 15 minutes then seek medical attention.

Stay seated or sit down if you are standing.  Closing your eyes or focusing on an image or object may also help to keep you calm as you work to get your breathing back under control.  
Sitting upright in a chair is the best position to be in as you try to get your breathing back under control do not recline or lie down because this may make it harder for you to breathe.  As you breathe in focus on pulling air down into your stomach then use your stomach muscles to help you push the air out, this is called diaphragmatic breathing. To make sure that you are taking in full deep breaths try placing one hand on your stomach just below your ribcage and the other on your chest. When you breathe you should notice that the hand on your chest is staying still while the hand below your ribcage is rising and falling.  
Take deep slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, try to relax your body and focus only on your breathing. You may find it helpful to count to five slowly as you inhale and then count back down from five as you exhale.  Loosen up any tight clothing tight-fitting pants or a tight collar. This may restrict your breathing, take a moment to loosen up your clothing if you feel like it is interfering with your ability to breathe  
Call 911 if the attack does not improve if after 15 minutes you are still struggling to breathe then seek immediate medical attention.  

How to Stop an Asthma Attack Without an Inhaler

NB; Asthma and Hyperventilation are often confused, so it is useful to be able to tell the difference. If you are in doubt it is safer to treat for asthma.

How to stop Hyperventilating

Hyperventilation literally means “over breathing”.

When hyperventilating a person breathes much faster and deeper than normal, often times the respiratory rate is higher than 20 breaths a minute.

Acute type of ventilation can be very frightening you feel like you are not getting enough air because of the rapid deep breathing you inhale a lot of oxygen while at the same time the carbon dioxide level in the blood decreases. Which results in low levels of carbon dioxide in the blood resulting in signs and symptoms of this condition

Signs and Symptoms of Hyperventilating.

A hyperventilation attack can often result from the casualty being very anxious from a panic attack or sudden fright. The of hyperventilation is always mistaken for asthma

NB; The contrasting difference in the two conditions is the large volumes of air that can be heard entering the lungs of the hyperventilating casualty, compared with the tight wheeze of the asthmatic.

 The symptoms differ per person common symptoms are;

Unnaturally deep fast breathing  Dizziness
Fainting  Nausea  
Chest or abdominal pain  Cramps in the hand and in the feet  
Tingling around the mouth and in the handsThe casualty may think they cannot breathe  

Signs and Symptoms of Hyperventilating

Hyperventilation manifests itself in attacks and is often caused by;

  • Tension
  • High altitudes
  • Strenuous work
  • Panic
  • Physical injuries
  • Poisoning.

Treatment of Hyperventilation

  • Try to reassure the victim and be kind
  • Move the victim to a quiet place and explain that they are hyperventilating. This may help them to regain control of their breathing.
  • Coach the casualty’s breathing. Breathing through the nose may help.
  • In case you are worried and they don’t seem to improve call 999 or 112  for emergency help if the attack is prolonged.
  • Encourage them to seek medical advice, so they can learn how to prevent and control hyperventilation or a panic attack in the future.

To learn more about our How To Stop An Asthma Attack Training or to purchase First Aid Kits, visit or contact us. You can also email us at With Us

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