Research has revolutionised the lives of people with asthma


Section Menu

Connect with us

We're here to help.

Contact us or call 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462)

  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Like us on Facebook
  • Subscribe to YouTube

Asthma Emergency

RECOGNISE signs of an asthma flare-up or 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). A sudden or severe asthma flare-up is sometimes called an asthma attack.

If you are experiencing any of these signs, start asthma first aid. Do not wait until asthma is severe. Click here to view Asthma Emergency steps for Bricanyl turbuhalers & Symbicort SMART.


  • Minor difficulty breathing
  • Able to talk in full sentences
  • Able to walk/move around
  • May have cough or wheeze

Commence Asthma First Aid


  • Obvious difficulty breathing
  • Cannot speak a full sentence in one breath
  • Tugging in of the skin between ribs or at base of neck
  • May have cough or wheeze
  • Reliever medication not lasting as long as usual 

Call Ambulance on 000
Commence Asthma First Aid

Life threatening

  • Gasping for breath
  • Unable to speak or 1-2 words per breath 
  • Confused or exhausted
  • Turning blue
  • Collapsing
  • May no longer have wheeze or cough
  • Not responding to reliever medication

Call Ambulance on 000
Commence Asthma First Aid

In children:

  • Signs of worsening asthma can be difficult to recognise
  • Asthma can worsen quickly over short period of time
  • They may complain of sore tummy or chest and be more restless
  • DO NOT DELAY in starting asthma first aid 

How to respond

If you are experiencing a severe or life-threatening asthma attack, call an ambulance - Dial Triple Zero (000) and then start asthma first aid.

If you are experiencing a mild to moderate asthma attack, start asthma first aid. Click here to view Asthma Emergency steps for Bricanyl turbuhalers & Symbicort SMART.


Sit the person upright 
 - Be calm and reassuring
 - Do not leave them alone


Give 4 separate puffs of blue/grey reliever puffer 
 - Shake puffer
 - Put 1 puff into spacer
 - Take 4 breaths from spacer
Repeat until 4 puffs have been taken
Remember: Shake, 1 puff, 4 breaths
(Give 2 separate doses of a Bricanyl turbuhaler (ages 6+) or a Symbicort inhaler (ages 12+))


Wait 4 minutes 
- If there is no improvement, give 4 more separate puffs of blue/grey reliever as above
(If there is no improvement, give 1 more dose of Bricanyl turbuhaler or Symbicort inhaler as above)


If there is still no improvement call emergency assistance. Dial Triple Zero (000)
 - Say 'ambulance' and that someone is having an asthma attack
 - Keep giving 4 separate puffs every 4 minutes until emergency assistance arrives

(Keep giving 1 separate dose every 4 minutes with a turbuhaler until emergency assistance arrives - up to 3 more doses of Symbicort)


 Call emergency assistance immediately. Dial Triple Zero (000)
 - If the person is not breathing
 - If the person's asthma suddenly becomes worse, or is not improving
 - If the person is having an asthma attack and a reliever is not available
 - If you are not sure if it's asthma
 - If the person is known to have Anaphylaxis - follow their Anaphylaxis Action Plan, then give Asthma First Aid.
 Blue/grey reliever medication is unlikely to harm, even if the person does not have asthma

Download your own asthma first aid poster ready for printing by clicking on the size you would like:

Or download Asthma First Aid App to access the asthma first aid steps wherever you are. 

iOS App Store badge   Google Play button

After asthma first aid

If your symptoms improve you still need to make an appointment to see your doctor, preferably the same day.

If you’re not sure, or if you get worse again before you see your doctor, go straight to hospital or call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.

National Supporters

Principal Partner:





Program Partners:


Health logo 







Research Partners:




Campaign Partner:  ooh-unmissable


logo tarkett blue



State Supporters

nsw-health-logo  Qld_Gov   
Fay Fuller Foundation Logo
 SA_partners_electranet  SA_partners_sapower  


State Supporters

      fort knox     oTrain-logo-small       MercedesWaratah