The 4 Steps of Asthma First Aid - TerryWhite Chemmart
 In General Health, Health Programs

The tragedy of Melbourne’s thunderstorm asthma epidemic of November last year (2016) was immense. While you may think that it only affected people with asthma specifically, a survey from Asthma Australia showed that 40% of respondents hadn’t previously been diagnosed with asthma, yet 79% reported experiencing an asthma ‘attack’. The majority (92%) said they suffered from hay fever, however.

Just over half who had been diagnosed with asthma in the past and only 25% of those not diagnosed were aware of asthma first aid steps. This is a very alarming figure when we consider that such a high percentage hadn’t been diagnosed prior to the event last November. With potentially similar conditions fast approaching, we felt it was an absolute necessity to communicate the steps involved in administering asthma first aid.


In case of emergency

You should call 000 prior to starting asthma first aid if the person is experiencing severe to life-threatening symptoms:


  • Obvious difficulty breathing
  • Cannot speak a full sentence in one breath
  • Tugging in of the skin between ribs or at base of neck
  • May have cough or wheeze
  • Reliever medication not lasting as long as usual


  • Gasping for breath
  • Unable to speak or 1-2 words per breath
  • Confused or exhausted
  • Turning blue
  • Collapsing
  • May no longer have wheeze or cough
  • Not responding to reliever medication


Conducting asthma first aid

After you’ve contacted 000 or if they’re only showing mild to moderate symptoms such as:

  • Minor difficulty breathing
  • Able to talk in full sentences
  • Able to walk/move around
  • May have a cough or wheeze

You can begin the 4 steps of asthma first aid.


Looking to find out more?

Managing asthma and allergies matters. Visit your nearest TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist if you’d like further information about thunderstorm asthma, asthma first aid or general asthma or allergy information. We can also provide:

  • Inhaler technique checks to help you get the most out of your medication
  • Spacers to help improve how much medication reaches the lungs
  • Your Asthma Score, which measures your level of asthma control
  • Medication management assistance, such as keeping your prescription on file or sending SMS reminders when you’re due for a repeat



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