Asthma First Aid Without an Inhaler

Asthma is a condition affecting the small airways in our lungs. An asthma attack occurs when the small airways become inflamed and clogged with mucus, this causes difficulty in breathing and a characteristic ‘wheezing’ noise. 

Asthma attacks often have triggers. These include inhaled irritants such as pollen, dust, and pollution. In addition, changes in temperature and vigorous exercise can also trigger asthma attacks.

The main treatment of asthma is Ventolin / Salbutamol using an inhaler. Patients with asthma are prescribed an inhaler and instructions on how to use the inhaler to relieve the symptoms of an asthma attack. Serious asthma attacks may require hospital treatment and can be life-threatening. 

Can You Treat Asthma Without an Inhaler?

Unfortunately, there is no other effective first aid treatment for asthma. Placing the victim in a comfortable position to aid their breathing and keeping them calm will help, but these first aid measures will not stop the swelling and inflammation of the small airways. The victim will require treatment to improve their breathing.

What Should I do if no Inhaler is Available?

If the victim doesn’t have an inhaler, or this is their first asthma attack, activate local emergency services without delay. A victim with asthma can deteriorate quickly, and unfortunately, despite modern medical treatments asthma can be fatal. 

Never delay in calling for professional help for an asthma attack victim! 

Monitor the victim and provide re-assurance until emergency medical help arrives. If they collapse and stop breathing normally, update EMS and begin performing chest compressions. 


John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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