March 01, 2017 at 9:29 AM


Asthma is a medical condition in which certain things can trigger a physical reaction in the lungs and make it difficult for a person to breathe. In New Zealand Asthma and respiratory disease is the 3rd leading cause of death. Asthma affects 1 in 7 children and a further 1 in 6 suffer from some form of respiratory disease.

Quick relief medications, delivered with an inhaler device, work fast to help control asthma symptoms. If the person has a prescribed inhaler assist him or her in using it. Ring 111 immediately if the symptoms seem serious, get worse or if there is no response to the medication.

Asthma management.

If you find yourself in a situation where there is an asthma emergency, use the acronym ASTHMA to help you remember the correct steps to follow.

A for Assess

Short of breath, wheeze, cough, chest tightness.

Loud wheeze, breathing difficulty, can only speak in short sentences.

Distressed, gasping for breath, difficulty speaking two words, blueness around the mouth.

If the person has severe asthma or is frightened, call an ambulance on 111.

S for Sit
Sit the person upright and stay with them. If mild, treat with two doses of reliever inhaler.

T for Treat
Treat with six doses of reliever inhaler. This type of inhaler should be used with a spacer. One puff of medicine at a time. Use six breaths per puff.

H for Help
If not improving after six minutes, call an ambulance. Continue to use the reliever inhaler - six doses every six minutes until help arrives.


  • Six doses of medication
  • Six breaths per puff
  • Six minute wait

In this situation, you will not overdose the person by giving them the reliever every few minutes.

M for Monitor
If improving after 6 minutes, keep monitoring. If necessary, repeat doses of blue inhaler.

A for All OK!
When free of wheeze, cough or breathlessness, return to quiet activity.

If symptoms recur, repeat treatment and rest.

See your doctor. 

More info for parents


Learn how to save a life

To book a Medic First Aid course click here




Asthma foundation of New Zealand






Tags: Asthma management First Aid for asthma
Category: First Aid