From Meningitis to Fever, Earache to Asthma…    Our A – Z  guide of First Aid will provide you with information on symptoms and treatments for common first aid emergencies that may occur around the home or in the workplace

Asthma, common but deadly

The first and recent National Review of Asthma Deaths highlighted that in half of the deaths they investigated the patient did not receive any medical assistance in their final Asthma attack. As a Nation we are well aware of the condition of Asthma, 5.4 million people in the UK are currently receiving treatment for it.

As a School Teacher, statistically that’s 3 children in your class, in an office of 40, 3 suffer with it, in a factory of 500, 41 of your colleagues have this potentially life-threatening condition. Asthma is so common that we have become complacent about what it is, what it does and under estimate the danger of dismissing an Asthma attack as a bit of nothing.

On average 3 people die from Asthma each day. Don’t be the First Aider that gets it wrong…



Asthma is a condition that affects the airways – the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs.

When a person with asthma comes into contact with something that irritates their airways (an asthma trigger), the muscles around the walls of the airways tighten so that the airways become narrower and the lining of the airways becomes inflamed and starts to swell. Sometimes, sticky mucus or phlegm builds up, which can further narrow the airways.

The symptoms of asthma can include:

  • Tight chest
  • Coughing that will not settle
  • An audible wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unable to complete a sentence in one breath (Red Flag)
  • Cyanosis to the lips or finger tips (Red Flag)
  • Exhaustion (Red Flag)

Red Flags indicate the need to call 999 immediately

What to do in Asthma attack

The following guidelines (Asthma UK) are the recommended steps for both children and adults to follow in an asthma attack, as a First Aider you should know these too:

1. Take one to two puffs of your reliever inhaler (usually blue), immediately.

2. Sit down and try to take slow, steady breaths.

3. If you don’t start to feel better, take two puffs of your reliever inhaler (one puff at a time) every two minutes. You can take up to ten puffs.

4. If you do not feel better after taking your inhaler as above, or if you’re worried at any time, call 999.

5. If an ambulance doesn’t arrive within ten minutes and you’re still feeling unwell, repeat step 3.


Asthma UK is a wonderful charity, have a look at their informative, easy to use website This link takes you to the recent BBC report from May 2014 about the National Review of Asthma Deaths