What to Do During an Asthma Attack (If You Don’t Have an Inhaler)

For those who have experienced an asthma attack, you know getting them can be scary. And getting an asthma attack when you don’t have your inhaler nearby – well that’s even worse! While you should always do your best to be aware of your triggers and keep your inhaler handy, sometimes an unexpected attack hits you or you just can’t seem to find where you placed it. Luckily, there are a few different things you can do to combat an asthma attack even without your inhaler.

First, the most important thing to do is to plan for the worst. Make sure you have a phone nearby and are ready and able to call 911 in case your attack gets worse or does not go away. If you have a friend or anybody else nearby, it is also a good idea to ask them to stay with you until your asthma attack subsides. If anything were to happen, you’ll be glad to have an extra person around.

Second, if you know what might be causing your asthma attack, try to remove yourself from the trigger. For example, if you know you get exercise-induced asthma, stop the exercise you’re doing. Or, if you know you’re allergic to something nearby (like pollen), try to move away (go indoors). The key is to stop whatever it is that is causing you to have an attack. However, only move away if you feel comfortable enough to do so. It is important to make sure you don’t do anything that would actually stress your body even more and cause your breathing difficulty to increase.

Though it may be hard to do so, try to stay calm. Your asthma attack may resolve on its own, so stay diligent but try not to worry too much, which could negatively impact your breathing. Sit down and stay upright. Focus on your breathing and take long, deep breaths. You can close your eyes or leave them open, whichever helps you focus the most on your breathing. The goal here is to make sure you don’t hyperventilate and to let your airways reopen.

Some home remedies report that drinking a caffeinated beverage may improve the symptoms of an asthma attack. While scientific evidence suggests caffeine may have a bronchodilator effect (opening the airways), there isn’t enough evidence to say whether or not drinking a caffeinated beverage during an attack will actually help it stop. Similarly, some home remedies report that certain essential oils may help with attacks, but again there isn’t strong scientific evidence to support these claims.

Once your attack passes, try to remember for future incidences what worked. Keep in mind if sitting was helpful, what type of breathing you did, and if you kept your eyes open or closed. This will help the next time an attack happens should you find yourself without your inhaler.

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