What to do after an asthma attack

After an asthma attack take three simple steps to stay well and lower your risk of another attack


For information on asthma attacks in children, visit our child asthma attack recovery page.

1. Book an urgent appointment with your GP or asthma nurse

Tell reception you need an urgent appointment because you've had an asthma attack. Book an appointment even if you feel better now. And even if you’ve been started on treatment for your asthma attack.

Even if you’re OK now you still need a check-up from your GP or asthma nurse to make sure you’re not at risk from another attack.

You need an urgent same day appointment if:

  • you dealt with an asthma attack at home using your blue reliever inhaler but didn't need to call an ambulance.

You need an urgent appointment within two working days if: 

  • you were treated in hospital or by paramedics in the ambulance
  • you needed to use any of your 'rescue pack' of steroid tablets to deal with your worsening asthma symptoms.
Dr Andy Whittamore

If you had an asthma attack but didn't see your GP at the time it is still important to see your doctor or asthma nurse now. Your asthma may still not be well controlled and you could be at risk of another asthma attack.

Recover more quickly from an asthma attack with support from your GP

Even though you may have dealt with your asthma attack at home, or been treated for it in hospital, it’s still important to see your GP or asthma nurse after having an asthma attack.

Your GP or asthma nurse can support your recovery and lower your risk of another attack.

They can:  

  • prescribe a course of steroid tablets (prednisolone) to deal with the inflammation and swelling in your airways. Most people will be prescribed steroid tablets to take alongside their existing asthma medicines for about a week
  • check your medicines to see if you’re on the best dose for you, and that you’re taking your inhalers in the right way.
  • update your asthma action plan so you know exactly what medicines to take when, and what to do if symptoms get worse at any point.

Don't have an asthma action plan?

2. Keep taking your asthma medicines as prescribed

You can speed up your recovery and lower your risk of another attack by taking your asthma medicines as prescribed. Use your asthma action plan to help you.

This means continuing to take your usual preventer medicine and finishing the course of steroid tablets (prednisolone) if your doctor prescribed this for you.

  • Your usual preventer medicine works away in the background to prevent your airways from getting too inflamed or swollen. If you take it every day as prescribed you should have fewer symptoms and lower your risk of another attack.
  • A short course of steroid tablets prescribed by your GP helps you recover from your asthma attack by dealing with the inflammation and swelling in your airways. If you’re still getting symptoms once you’ve finished a course of oral steroid tablets, book a follow-up appointment. Your GP or asthma nurse may decide to extend your course of steroid tablets by another week.

If you are on a high dose of steroid medicine you should be given a steroid card. This is a card that lets healthcare professionals know you take steroids. It is useful in emergency situations, as your body may not produce enough natural steroids to help you deal with illness or injury. In this situation, doctors will need to give you extra corticosteroids.

Make sure you always carry your steroid card with you. If you lose it, you can get a replacement from your pharmacy or GP.

3. Give yourself some time to recover

After an asthma attack it's important to try and rest as much as you need to. Lots of people feel physically and emotionally tired. Everyone's different so it's important to do what's right for you.

Try to:

  • rest and relax as much as possible
  • get signed off work by your doctor – don’t go back to work until you’re fully better
  • ask friends and family to help with children or housework and shopping
  • have a good sleep routine – trouble sleeping is common after an asthma attack
  • postpone social events until you’re well enough.
    call the Asthma + Lung UK Helpline for reassurance and support if you’re frightened or stressed after your asthma attack. 

If your symptoms are getting worse again after your appointment

book another appointment with your GP as soon as possible, preferably the same day. Go to an NHS walk-in centre if no appointments are available.

Get support

Call our Helpline for support with your condition. Get advice on your medicines, symptoms or travelling with a lung condition, or just call us to say hello.

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