Staying in hospital for your asthma

Find out what happens when you need to stay in hospital because of your asthma, how long you may need to stay, and what happens next.  

Why do I need to stay in hospital with my asthma?

Although a lot of asthma attacks can be treated in A&E (Accident & Emergency), you may need to be admitted to hospital if your asthma attack was severe or life-threatening.

Sometimes people move from A&E to intensive care, or to HDU (High Dependency Unit). This is so you can get extra treatment to get your asthma under control and staff can monitor you closely.

Once you’re able to breathe more easily, you’ll be moved to a general ward in the hospital.

The NHS website has more information on what to expect in hospital. 

How will my asthma be treated in hospital?

Once you’re on the general ward, doctors will continue to give you medicines to help you recover from your asthma attack. 

You may be given:  

  • reliever medicine either through a nebuliser or an inhaler and spacer
  • steroid tablets, usually prednisolone, to reduce the inflammation in your lungs
  • oxygen.

They will check that you’re recovering well by:

When can I go home from hospital?  

Your healthcare team will want to make sure you’ve fully recovered from your asthma attack before they send you home.

They will want to see that:

  • your asthma is responding well to medicines, including the medicines you’ll be discharged with
  • your peak flow readings are good (a score of 75% of your usual best or predicted score) and that they do not vary too much at different times of the day
  • you know how to use your inhaler with the right inhaler technique
  • you understand the medicines you need to continue taking at home, and for how long
  • you know how to use a peak flow meter and how to monitor your peak flow regularly.

Before you leave hospital, hospital staff should give you:

Follow up appointments

You should see your own doctor (GP) or asthma nurse within two days of leaving hospital. The hospital should contact your GP with details of your asthma attack. If your local GP surgery does not get in touch, call them to make an appointment.  

You should also be offered a follow up appointment four weeks later in the respiratory clinic.

How can I avoid going into hospital again?

Make sure you get the follow-up support you need from your GP or asthma nurse. And find out what you can do after your asthma attack to avoid future attacks.

These steps are important in helping you avoid future asthma attacks:  

Before you leave hospital:

  • have an asthma review with your respiratory specialist
  • make sure you have an updated asthma action plan so you know how to look after your asthma every day, and what to do when symptoms get worse
  • talk through the asthma medicines you need to take at home, what they are for, how to take them, and for how long.

After you get home:

Go to your GP follow up appointment. The hospital should arrange for you to have a follow-up appointment within 48 hours of when you left hospital. They will let your GP know that you’ve been in hospital, and what treatment you had there.

Dr Andy Whittamore

“A small bit of time spent looking after your asthma every day could help avoid the stress and inconvenience of a stay in hospital”

Looking after yourself after an asthma attack

Being treated in hospital for your asthma can be an upsetting and frightening experience.  

A lot of people feel physically and emotionally tired after an asthma attack so it’s important to get as much rest as you can.

Get support and advice for your emotional well-being.

It can also really help to talk about what happened and share your experiences with friends or on our online forums or by joining one of our support groups

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.

Did you find this information useful?

We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 0300 222 5800 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

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