CPR First Aid

Asthma Symptoms And First Aid

Asthma Symptoms And First Aid

Asthma is a common respiratory condition that affects people of all ages. Its symptoms may be coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. In some cases, asthma may be fatal. If you or someone you know has asthma, it is important to know how to recognize the asthma symptoms and identify which first aid steps may be done. Reading the below may help and enroll in a first aid course in Modbury may do more. It equips you with the skills and knowledge in providing first aid response in the actual occurrence of asthma symptoms and/or attacks.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a medical condition in the lungs that affects the airways, according to National Asthma Council Australia. These airways are the breathing tubes that carry air into the lungs. The tubes become narrower causing people with asthma to find it harder to breathe in and out.

Does Difficulty in Breathing Always Occur?

Difficulty in breathing may occur rarely and may be controlled. To make these possible, it may be helpful to:

  • Learn more about asthma by studying, asking other people who have it, or doing some research.
  • Have a regular check-up with a doctor.
  • Create an action plan to know what to do when symptoms occur.
  • Enrol in a first aid course to be familiarized with what first aid practices may be followed when there is an asthma symptom and/or attack.

Doing these may help an asthmatic person still have an active and healthy lifestyle especially since there is no cure for asthma.

What May Be Done if Someone is Having Difficulty in Breathing?

Difficulty in breathing may not necessarily mean someone is experiencing an asthma symptom or attack. However, if a person experiences any of the following, it may be best to call 000 for emergency help:

  • Is short of breath and can’t speak in sentences.
  • Has pain in their chest, arm, and/or jaw.
  • Feels sick, feverish, chills, coughing, or faint.
  • Has swollen feet or ankles.
  • Shorter breath when lying down.
  • Has blue lips or fingertips.
  • Makes noises when breathing.

If no one around is available to provide a first aid response, ask the person to stay calm while waiting for an ambulance.

What Are the Other Possible Causes of Difficulty in Breathing?

Asthma may not be the immediate reason if someone experiences difficulty in breathing. Other possible causes may be:

  • Heart problems that may lead to a heart attack.
  • Infections in the airways like flu, cold, pneumonia, or COVID-19.
  • Anxiety or panic attack.
  • Allergic reactions like anaphylaxis.
  • Lung collapse or cancer.
  • Smoking.
  • Obesity.
  • Anaemia.

Some of these causes may lead to a person feeling shortness of breath long-term.

Is Experiencing Difficulty in Breathing Avoidable?

It may be helpful to identify the cause of difficulty in breathing. It may be a good start to know what to treat or minimise. For instance,

  • If you suspect you have COVID-19, taking a test may help so you know if you need to be treated with it as per the Australian Government guidelines.
  • If you have allergies, avoid the things or food you are allergic to.
  • If you are obese, you may try to lose weight with a guidance of a certified fitness trainer.
  • If you smoke, you may want to quit smoking.

If asthma is the cause of difficulty in breathing, it may be helpful to understand its other symptoms so appropriate first aid management may be done.

What are the Symptoms of Asthma?

Symptoms of asthma may not occur altogether, and the most common ones are:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing – when there’s a high-pitched sound that comes out of the chest when breathing.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Tightness in the chest.

When any of these asthma symptoms occur, certain things happen inside the lungs.

What Happens Inside the Lungs when there is a Symptom of Asthma?

The following are the possible situations of the airways when there is a symptom of asthma:

  • Airways tighten up – the airways become narrower when the muscle inside its walls contract.
  • Airways thicken up – there is less space to breathe through when the lining of the tube gets swollen and inflamed.
  • Airways fill up – mucus blocks the inside of the tubes.

These may all happen at the same time.

Why Are Symptoms of Asthma Considered Warning Signs for COVID-19?

The difficulty in breathing which is one of the symptoms of asthma may also be a symptom of COVID-19. So an asthmatic person who experiences this symptom is also recommended to take a COVID-19 test.

What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 may still be differentiated from Asthma as it includes the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • A dry cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

If any of the other symptoms mentioned above are experienced, it may indicate that the person has COVID-19. Taking a test may be done to confirm it.

What to Do if You Are COVID-19 Positive?

If you have confirmed you have COVID-19, you must immediately isolate yourself as per the Department of Health‘s guidelines. You may then call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. They will provide information about how to look after yourself when you are sick with COVID-19.

Is COVID-19 Deadly?

According to the World Health Organization, anyone may get sick with COVID-19 and become seriously ill or die. Elderly people and those with underlying medical conditions (like respiratory diseases such as asthma) are more likely to develop serious illnesses. On the other hand, some infected people may experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.

How to Prevent COVID-19 Infection?

You may do the following preventive measures:

  • Wear a face mask when going outside.
  • Maintain physical distancing.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Get vaccinated.

If you feel unwell, it may be best to stay home and get tested with a rapid antigen test kit.

What is First Aid to Asthma?

Testing negative for COVID-19 may be good news. Having difficulty breathing which is a symptom of asthma may be a problem. Especially if you are not aware of the first aid steps to be done when this and the other symptoms of asthma occur. It may cause the symptoms of asthma to get worse, leading to an asthma flare-up or asthma attack.

First Aid for Mild/Moderate Asthma Attack

A person experiencing any or most of the following may be having a mild/moderate asthma attack:

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

If these persist, the following are the first aid steps that may be done:

  1. Ask the person if they have asthma and if they need help.
  2. If so, assist the person with the appropriate first aid response according to their asthma puffer or reliever.

First Aid for Severe Asthma Attack

A person experiencing any or most of the following may be having a severe asthma attack:

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

If these persist, the following are the first aid steps that may be done:

  1. Call an ambulance on 000.
  2. Conduct the appropriate first aid response according to their asthma puffer or reliever.

First Aid for Life-Threatening Asthma Attack

A person experiencing any or most of the following may be having a life-threatening asthma attack:

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

If these persist, the following are the first aid steps that may be done:

  1. Call an ambulance on 000.
  2. Conduct the appropriate first aid response according to their asthma puffer or reliever.

What are Asthma Puffers?

Asthma puffers contain medications that reduce asthma symptoms quickly and are usually called the “asthma reliever”. It may come with an “asthma preventer”.

What is an Asthma Reliever?

The asthma reliever is the puffer used during an asthma attack as it provides quick relief from symptoms of asthma. This is done by relaxing the airway muscles and opening the airways, making it easier to breathe.

What is an Asthma Preventer?

The asthma preventer reduces the symptoms of asthma. Its low dose of steroid medicine lowers the inflammation and swelling in the airways. Using it must be done as prescribed by a doctor.

How to Use an Asthma Reliever during an Asthma Attack?

Asthma relievers are not the same for all asthmatic people. One may contain a different medication from another, so first aid instructions may be different. Familiarising these and quick identification of whether an asthma attack is mild, severe, or life-threatening may be helpful. These are some of the life-saving skills you may learn in a first aid course in Modbury.


There are different symptoms of asthma, and it varies depending on the severity of an asthma attack. One of the symptoms of asthma is difficulty in breathing, which is also a COVID-19 symptom. So it may be difficult to differentiate whether you have asthma or COVID-19. Taking a COVID-19 test may be done, if it is negative and you suspect you have asthma, going to a doctor may be done. He/She may prescribe an asthma reliever for quick relief of an asthma attack and an asthma preventer to reduce the symptoms of asthma. Knowing how to use these and identifying the severity of an asthma attack are life-saving skills that may be learned by enrolling in a first aid course in Modbury.

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