Asthma First Aid

Asthma First Aid Large

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. 

Want asthma first aid information at the touch of your fingertips?

Download the My Asthma app for asthma information, first aid steps and an electronic asthma management plan. For more information click here.

Download English Asthma First Aid Poster (183.59KB)

Useful Asthma Resources

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Asthma Infogrpahic Impact Report 2019

Asthma in New Zealand

Infographic presenting an overview of how asthma affects New Zealand

School Asthma Checklist

School asthma checklist

Use this checklist of preventative measures to help reduce the risk of asthma-related sickness at school.

Asthma First Aid Te Reo Maori Image

Asthma First Aid – Māori

An Asthma First Aid poster translated in Māori.

English Asthma First Aid Poster

Asthma First Aid – English

A poster with six steps for asthma first aid.