What to Do if You Do Not Have Your Inhaler During an Asthma Attack
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What to Do if You Do Not Have Your Inhaler During an Asthma Attack

Published on Apr 30, 2022 and last reviewed on Oct 25, 2023   -  4 min read


During an asthma attack, the airway becomes narrow, and breathing will be difficult. This article explains what one must do if they do not have an inhaler.


Asthma is a chronic (long-term) condition in which the bronchial tubes of the lungs are inflamed and there is production of extra mucus as a result of contraction of the muscle around the airways, causing difficulty in breathing. During an asthma attack, the airways tend to become narrower than usual, which can cause difficulty breathing. Certain triggers, such as cold weather, smoke, air pollution, or pet dander, can swell the airways and cause an asthma attack. Other triggers of asthma attacks include an emotional outburst or physical exertion.

What Should Be Done if There Is No Inhaler During Asthma Attacks?

If a person has asthma, it is essential to keep an inhaler in hand so as to help them if they have difficulty breathing. Even then, many people tend to forget to carry their inhalers in many situations. This article sheds light on what one must do in such situations.

Some of the things to keep in mind during such a situation are:

1) Keep Calm - One must stay as calm as possible when suffering from an asthma attack. Stress and anxiety can aggravate the symptoms. While waiting for the symptoms to subside or for medical help to arrive, it may be helpful to play some music or turn on the television to make the individual calm down.

2) Sitting Upright - An individual must sit in an upright position so that their airways are open and their breathing will be as unobstructed as possible. One must avoid lying down during an asthma attack, as this can worsen the symptoms.

3) Identify and Eliminate the Trigger - At some point, triggers are inevitable and will be encountered in life. If the history of an asthma attack is known, then one must get away from the trigger or remove the trigger, if possible. This will help prevent asthma from becoming further aggravated. If it is impossible to completely remove or move from the asthma trigger, one can try breathing through the shirt or something similar that can filter the air that one receives. The potential asthma triggers are lengthy; some are pollen, mold, feathers, animal dander, certain foods, dust mites, smoke, exercise, dirt, gases, illness, stress, cold weather, windy weather, and even Acetaminophen.

4) Focus On Breathing - There are different breathing methods that one can follow that may help reduce the symptoms of asthma, and they will also be helpful during an asthma attack.

  • Buteyko's Method - This method teaches how to breathe slowly and calmly through the nose instead of the mouth. Using this technique, the air in the body will stay warm and moist. This will help the airways become less sensitive while breathing.

  • Papworth's Method -This technique uses relaxation and breathing exercises to help in learning special breath patterns. This method encourages more relaxed breathing and keeps one aware of the muscles used in taking air in. For example, some people use their diaphragm and nose instead of their chest and mouth. The Papworth method also teaches how to alter breathing according to a person's activity.

  • Diaphragmatic Breathing - This technique focuses on breathing from the region around the diaphragm as opposed to from the chest.

  • Yoga - The breathing technique in yoga is called pranayama, which involves controlling the duration and timing of each breath. Many studies suggest that breathing exercises have some positive effects on hyperventilation symptoms, although additional research is needed.

5) Use Eucalyptus Oil - A few drops of eucalyptus oil can be added to a bowl of boiled water, and the steam can be inhaled, as this will aid in clearing out blocked passageways and mucus.

6) Try Mustard Oil - Using warmed-up mustard oil can offer relief from breathing trouble. This oil opens their passages and helps the lungs work efficiently after rubbing it onto the chest. It is safe, hence, it is advisable to use it as much as needed to feel better.

7) Take Some Honey - One can consume a spoonful of honey, or mix it into a glass of warm water, which will help the phlegm exit from the throat and aid in better breathing.

8) Drink Hot Coffee - Hot coffee or tea can be helpful in reducing some of the symptoms if a person suffers from an asthma attack without an inhaler. One can try sipping some hot coffee or tea to slightly open the airways and get some relief. While caffeine should never be used as a replacement for prescription asthma medication, it can be helpful in providing asthma relief without an inhaler for two to four hours. However, it is not suggested for asthmatics to consume large amounts of caffeine on a regular basis.

9) Seek Medical Attention - Many people do not seek emergency medical attention when they need it because they think their symptoms will subside before an ambulance arrives. One must not put off calling the emergency number or visiting the emergency room if the symptoms do not subside. Immediate emergency medical treatment should be obtained if a person experiences any of the following symptoms during an asthma attack:

  • If the person cannot speak except in short words or phrases.

  • The face and lips turn blue when not coughing or sneezing.

  • If one has to strain the chest muscles to breathe.

  • The shortness of breath or wheezing is severe, especially in the early morning or late at night.

  • Feeling drowsy or tired.

  • If symptoms get worse even after any treatment.

A medical card or medical ID bracelet with details of asthma history and medications is a good preparation to help in case a person encounters an asthma attack without an inhaler. This will help the medical team identify and treat the symptoms more quickly if the patient is indisposed. If a person is having trouble controlling asthma or would like to try new treatment options that may be suitable for their condition and lifestyle, then they must consult a doctor before following such methods on their own.


Suppose a person experiences an asthma attack and does not have a rescue inhaler, in that case, several remedies will help improve breathing, like sitting up straight, doing breathing exercises, using honey, mustard oil, etc. It is important to check if the symptoms are getting better or worse. The severity of an asthma attack can vary from mild to very serious. In mild attacks, symptoms get better with prompt home treatment. However, a severe asthma attack that does not improve with home treatment may require medical attention, or it can become a life-threatening emergency. If the symptoms worsen, one must seek immediate medical attention at the earliest.

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Last reviewed at:
25 Oct 2023  -  4 min read




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