First aid

31 August 2010

Asthma first aid

Asthma attacks are seldom fatal with prompt, correct treatment. Here's what to do.


  • Asthma is a serious respiratory condition that causes narrowing of the airways.
  • Symptoms of an asthma attack include wheezing and shortness of breath.
  • Get help immediately if medication does not bring relief during an episode.
  • First aid focuses on helping the person take his medication, and keeping him calm.

People who suffer from asthma generally carry medications such as bronchodilators (asthma pump) with them in the event of an attack, which work by relaxing the constricted muscles so that the airways can open and ease breathing difficulty.

  • Shortness of breath or panting, especially after physical exertion
  • Rapid, loud or uneven breathing
  • Wheezing, or a whistling sound when exhaling
  • Breathing problems makes talking difficult
  • Tight or sore chest
  • Spaces between the ribs become visible when inhaling
  • Hunching over
  • Sweating
  • Paleness
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Nostrils flaring
  • Throat-clearing
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue

  • Someone is struggling to breathe or is unusually short of breath.
  • A person is asthmatic and his or her medication doesn't bring relief.
  • The person has difficulty walking or talking.
  • Fingernails and lips turn bluish-gray.


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