Asthma is a disease affecting the airways. Three factors affect the airways, leading them to narrow


The airway walls become red and swollen. Decreasing and controlling this swelling is the key to managing asthma. Chronic swelling is thought to lead to more frequent asthma attacks and long-term damage.


Excessive and sometimes sticky secretions can block up the airways.


Small muscles around the airways tighten more easily, leading to narrowing of the airways. This leads to a drop in the amount of air that can be inhaled and can sometimes lead to wheezing.

What Causes An Asthma Attack ?

There are many different expressions and experiences when an ‘asthma attack’ occurs.

Want to Know More About Asthma Attack ?

During an attack, the airways are more swollen, leading to greater obstruction. This makes it difficult for oxygen to enter the lungs and for carbon dioxide to be removed. The situation is worsened by muscles that press on the airways and increasing phlegm, leading to even narrower passages.

A mild attack will only last a few minutes and resolve either spontaneously or with a reliever. Severe attacks will progress even with inhaler use, and will require prompt assessment by a doctor. As the situation worsens, the patient may become more breathless to the point of having difficulty speaking or carrying out normal physical activities. Without adequate treatment, it will lead to respiratory failure and collapse.

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You Need To Seek Medical Help Immediately if:-

  • Your reliever isn’t helping despite having used it twice.
  • Symptoms are worsening (breathlessness, cough, wheeze)
  • You just “don’t feel right”
  • You are unable to sleep or eat
  • You are unable to complete a sentence
  • You are getting very tired
  • Peak flows less than 50% of normal, or consistently below 80% despite several days of treatment

Do not drive by yourself - get a friend or relative to take you to the hospital or call an ambulance. Whilst waiting for an ambulance, do not lie down, sit up straight and you can take 2 puffs of your reliever every minute, up to 10 puffs.

If you have been given oral steroids to keep at home, take them immediately and inform the doctor.

Controlling asthma

How do I know if my asthma is well controlled?

  • Have you been waking at night with any asthma symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath or wheezing)?
  • Are you using your reliever medication more than three times a week?
  • Do you get wheezy or breathless during the day?
  • Does your asthma affect your daily activities?

If your answer is YES to any of these questions, then your asthma may not be as well controlled as it should be.

What should you do?

You must first of all, understand what is asthma. Then, you need to recognize your triggers and signs of an asthma attack. Even with well-controlled asthma, you may still on occasion experience an asthma flare-up and suffer an attack

Some asthma attacks can be mild whilst others are extremely serious. People can die from a severe asthma attack.

Know your treatment options

You need to know:

  • When to take it
  • How much to take each time
  • The correct inhaler technique

You need a proper assessment by a doctor so that they can make sure you are receiving the right amount and right type of medication for you.

Are you over-relying on your inhaler? Take a simple reliever* reliance test here!

*Reliever inhaler mentioned refers to Short-Acting Beta2-Agonists (SABA).