After your asthma attack

What to do after your asthma attack, how to recover well, and how to lower your risk of another attack. 

This information is for adults. Find out more about your child’s asthma attack recovery.

Book an urgent follow-up appointment

Even if you’re feeling better now, it’s important to have a follow-up appointment at your GP surgery as soon as possible after your asthma attack.

Around 1 in 6 people treated for an asthma attack need hospital care again within two weeks.  Studies show that a follow-up appointment can help you avoid another attack.

Together you and your GP or nurse can talk about your asthma attack, what triggered it, and how you can lower your risk.

Book your follow up appointment now

  • If you had an asthma attack you dealt with yourself at home, ask for a same-day appointment.
  • If you had an asthma attack and were treated by paramedics, but did not need to go to hospital, ask for a same day appointment.
  • If you had an asthma attack and were treated in hospital, ask for an appointment no later than two working days after hospital treatment. 

Once you’ve had your urgent follow-up appointment, remember to make the most of your routine asthma reviews too.

An asthma review at least once a year helps you manage your asthma well. You and your GP or nurse can make sure you’re doing all you can to lower your risk of asthma symptoms and attacks.

We know from calls to our Helpline that it's hard to get a GP appointment sometimes. Tell your GP surgery that guidelines recommend an urgent appointment to lower your risk of another attack.

We have more advice about getting a GP appointment

Your asthma medicines

Use your follow-up appointment to talk about any medicines you may have been prescribed for your asthma attack. You can also talk about your usual asthma medicines.

Steroid tablets for your asthma attack

If you went to hospital and were given steroid tablets to treat your asthma attack, your GP or nurse can check how you’re getting on with these.

A short course of steroid tablets, usually prednisolone, treats the inflammation and swelling in your airways, and can lower your risk of another attack. You will usually need to take these for at least five days.

Always finish the course to give yourself the best chance of a full recovery. We know a lot of people worry about side effects from steroid tablets. But a short course is unlikely to cause any harmful side effects, and it’s important that you treat the inflammation in your airways.

Find out more about taking steroids for your asthma

Have you had two or more courses of steroids in a year?

If you have asthma and need two or more short courses of steroids in a year, or your symptoms keep coming back when you finish taking them, you should ask your GP for a referral to a specialist clinic.

You may have difficult to control asthma, or need tests to see if you have severe asthma.  Staff at a specialist asthma clinic can give you extra support to help you stay well.

Find out more about specialist asthma care

Your usual asthma medicines

At your follow-up appointment, you can also talk about your usual asthma medicines. Together with your GP or nurse you can see if these are still working well for you. 

Taking your asthma medicines as prescribed, and using the right inhaler technique, could lower your risk of having another attack.

Speak to your GP or nurse if you’ve been finding it hard to take your usual asthma medicines every day, or if you’re not sure how to use your inhalers.

Your GP, nurse or pharmacist can check you’re using your inhaler correctly. You can also check your inhaler technique now by watching our short inhaler videos.

You may need to change your usual asthma medicines, or use a different type of inhaler, to help you manage your asthma symptoms more easily.

Find out more about changing medicines.

Update your asthma action plan

After your asthma attack, ask your GP or nurse to update your asthma action plan with you. You can add any new medicines or triggers, and talk about what to do if you notice symptoms getting worse.

An asthma action plan makes it easier to manage your symptoms, so you’re less likely to need hospital treatment for an asthma attack.

If you’ve never had an asthma action plan, now’s the time to get one. It’s easy to download a free asthma action plan. Ask your GP or nurse to help you fill it in.

Find out more about asthma action plans and download a plan now.

Take time to rest and recover

People can feel shocked and frightened after an asthma attack, and it can help to talk about what’s happened. Debby Waddell, Respiratory Nurse Specialist, Asthma + Lung UK.

Asthma attacks can leave you feeling physically and emotionally tired. It may take time before you feel ready to get back to your usual activities.

It’s important to give yourself time to rest and recover. Ask family and friends for help where you can. And talk to your GP or nurse about getting back to work or starting to exercise again.

You may need to build up any activity slowly. We have advice on different levels of activity.

If you work, talk to your employer about taking time off to make sure you’re fully better before coming back to work. Explain that it can take some time to recover after an asthma attack. You can ask your doctor or nurse for a note saying you need time off work after your attack. This is called a fit note or sick note. 

Find out more about working with a lung condition

Your emotional wellbeing

An asthma attack can be a frightening experience. As well as taking care of your physical health, it’s worth thinking about your emotional well-being too.

Some people find it helps to talk to people with similar experiences on our online forums or by joining one of our support groups.

You can also call our Helpline and talk through your experience with one of our respiratory nurse specialists. 



How to avoid another attack

 Managing your asthma well

The best way to lower your risk of another asthma attack is to take steps to manage your asthma well every day.

You can do this by:

Find out more about the best ways to manage your asthma.

Recognising the signs and symptoms of an asthma attack

An asthma attack can happen suddenly. But it’s more likely that symptoms start getting worse gradually over a few days. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of your own signs and symptoms.

As soon as you notice symptoms are getting worse, make an appointment to speak to your GP or nurse. They can help you manage your symptoms better and lower your risk of an asthma attack.

Find out more about the signs and symptoms to look out for and why your symptoms may get worse.

If you have an asthma attack, follow our emergency asthma attack advice.

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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