Keeping asthma attacks at bay

Feel assured about your asthma

An asthma attack, also known as an exacerbation, is when your asthma symptoms suddenly get worse. Your airways become inflamed and obstructed making it difficult to breathe.1,2 Understandably, when an asthma attack happens it can be scary, but you shouldn’t have to live in fear each day. By being prepared and taking positive actions to maintain your asthma control, you can help to keep exacerbations at bay!2

Knowing what signs to look out for and how to manage an asthma attack if it does happen can help you to feel calm and confident day-to-day.


Despite being known as an ‘attack’, asthma attacks don’t always come on suddenly. Symptoms may appear over a few hours or even days, they can also vary in severity.3

Signs you may be having an asthma attack:

  • Your asthma symptoms become worse, including coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or discomfort. Your breathing may quicken and you may struggle to draw in a full breath1,3
  • Your reliever inhaler doesn’t ease your symptoms as usual3
  • Your peak flow score becomes lower than usual3

What to do next:

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In the event of an attack, it is important to try to stay calm and use your prescribed, quick-relief medications (usually an inhaler). If your coughing or shortness of breath persists or seems to be worsening you should seek immediate, emergency medical treatment.1

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Letting close friends and family know how they can help you if you have an asthma attack can be reassuring – for both you and them!

taking control

The key to reducing your chances of experiencing an asthma attack is making sure your asthma is well controlled.4 Experiencing any signs or symptoms of asthma could mean your asthma is not fully under control.Take the following steps to help you maintain control:

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Remember to take your medication3


Stick to your written asthma action plan. Regular use of your long-term control medication helps to reduce your chances of having an exacerbation. These medicines ease the airway inflammation that can cause asthma symptoms, like coughing and wheezing.2,3,4

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CHECK-in with your doctor3


Your asthma can change over time – treatment that once worked well may not be quite right today. That’s why it’s important to have a yearly asthma review with your doctor to make sure you’re on the right care plan for you.3 You should also contact your doctor immediately if you notice your symptoms worsening between appointments.

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Check you’re using your inhaler correctly3


Having the proper technique is important to make sure you get the full dose of your medication. Many people who don’t have correct inhaler technique often don’t realise it themselves.4 Ask your doctor or asthma nurse to help you with your inhaler technique.

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Avoid your triggers3


Various things can trigger asthma symptoms or an attack, for example animal hair or pollen. You can work with your doctor to better understand your personal asthma triggers and ways to avoid these.1 Check out the Pets and your asthma and Asthma and weather articles to learn more about potential asthma triggers.

To learn more about asthma symptoms and control, read the Spotting the common symptoms of asthma article.


Remember, by being prepared, you can feel confident about

your asthma care and keep asthma attacks at bay.


If you’re concerned that your asthma symptoms might be holding you back, speak to your doctor for more information.
The asthma control test (ACT) is a quick way to see how the symptoms of asthma are affecting your everyday life. Click on the link below to get the results in seconds – and be sure to share them with your doctor.

  • referenceS

    1. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Asthma Attack. Available at: Accessed: February 2024.
    2. Mayo Clinic. Asthma attack. Available at: Accessed: February 2024.
    3. NHS. Asthma attacks. Available at: Accessed: February 2024.
    4. GINA. Global strategy for asthma management and prevention, 2023. Available at: Accessed: February 2024.
    5. American Lung Association. Assess and Monitor Your Asthma Control. Available at: Accessed: February 2024.