Quick action may help prevent an asthma attack from becoming an asthma emergency.

Signs you are having an ASTHMA ATTACK

  • You have increasing wheezing, cough, chest tightness or shortness of breath  
  • You are waking often at night with asthma symptoms  
  • You need to use your blue/grey reliever again within 3 hours


  • Your symptoms get worse very quickly  
  • You have severe shortness of breath, can’t speak comfortably or lips look blue  
  • You get little or no relief from your reliever inhaler

Signs that someone needs first aid for an ASTHMA ATTACK

Any of these:

  • Suddenly hard to breathe
  • Can’t talk normally
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Feeling of chest tightness

What to do

Call an ambulance immediately:
Dial 000 Say this is an ASTHMA EMERGENCY

Not sure if it's asthma?

If a person stays conscious and their main problem seems to be breathing, follow the asthma first aid steps in the charts below. Asthma reliever medicine is unlikely to harm them even if they do not have asthma.

If someone is unconscious, start life support.

If you are ever unsure about what you should do 


Asthma first aid using blue/grey puffer for adults and adolescents aged 12 years and over

Download poster.

First aid using blue/grey puffer for children under 12 years

Download poster.

Tremor (e.g. shaky hands) can be a side-effect of these medications. High doses can cause rapid pulse rate. Use it as needed for asthma symptoms. After the person is breathing normally again, do not keep giving extra doses.

No blue/grey inhaler available?

No spacer available?

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