What should I do if my friend is having an asthma attack?
An asthma flare-up can be scary, both for the person having it and anyone who sees it happening. A friend who knows how to handle the situation can be a big help.
Here's what to do:
- Stay calm and be reassuring. Help your friend relax. If someone who is having a flare-up panics, it can make it even harder to breathe.
- Take your friend away from any possible asthma triggers, like smoke.
- Have your friend sit upright. Lying down might make breathing more difficult.
- If your friend can talk, ask what his or her asthma action plan says to do during a flare-up. If your friend is able to tell you, follow the plan.
- If your friend can't speak or doesn't remember what to do, ask if he or she has an inhaler to use during flare-ups. If so, get the inhaler and help your friend to use it.
- Call 911 if:
- the inhaler doesn't help
- the inhaler helps at first but then your friend gets worse again
- an inhaler is not available
- your friend is having trouble talking or is struggling to breathe
- your friend's lips are turning blue
- your friend becomes unconscious
Friends can be the first line of defense for someone who is having an asthma flare-up. So it's great that you want to be prepared!
Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: May 2014
*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.