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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 Sep 15, 2022   -  4 min read


During an asthma attack, the airway becomes narrow, and breathing will be difficult. This article explains things to be followed if a person does not have an inhaler.

What Is an Asthma Attack?

Asthma is a chronic condition in which the bronchial tubes of the lungs are inflamed and produce extra mucus by contraction of the muscle around the airways, causing difficulty in breathing. During an asthma attack, the airways become narrower than usual and 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. The severity of an asthma attack can range from mild to very serious. In mild attacks, symptoms get better with prompt home treatment. But a severe asthma attack does not improve with home treatment, it may require medical attention, or it can become a life-threatening emergency.

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

If a person has asthma, it is very important to keep an inhaler on hand when they have difficulty breathing. Even then, many people forget to carry inhalers in many situations; this article may help to overcome such situations.

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

1) Keep Calm - Stay as calm as possible while having an asthma attack. Stress and anxiety can worsen the symptoms. While waiting for the symptoms to subside or for a medical team to arrive, it may be helpful to play some music or turn on the television to make the patient calm down.

2) Sitting Upright - If the person is sitting in an upright position, it helps to keep their airways open so the breathing will be as unobstructed as possible. 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, get away from the trigger or remove the trigger, if possible. This will help in keeping asthma from becoming further aggravated. If it is impossible to completely remove or move from the asthma trigger, try breathing through the shirt or something similar that can filter the air you are receiving. The potential asthma triggers are lengthy; some are pollen, mold, feathers, animal dander, certain foods, dust mites, smoke, exercise, dirt, gasses, illness, stress, cold weather, or windy weather, and even Acetaminophen.

4) Focus On Breathing - There are different breathing methods to practice that may also help reduce asthma symptoms, and it 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 to 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 us 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 had some positive effects on hyperventilation symptoms, although additional research is needed.

5) Use Eucalyptus Oil - Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to a bowl of boiled water and breathe in the steam; this will help clear out blocked passageways and mucus.

6) Try Mustard Oil - Using warmed-up mustard oil can reduce breathing trouble. This oil opens the passageways and helps the lungs work after rubbing it onto the chest. It is safe, so it is advisable to use it as much as needed to feel better.

7) Take Some Honey - Consuming a spoonful of honey, or mixing it into a glass of warm water, will help eliminate phlegm in the throat. That helps for 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. Try sipping some 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. It is not advisable 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. Do not put off calling the emergency number or visiting the emergency room if the symptoms do not subside. Seek immediate emergency medical treatment 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 straining 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 ID bracelet or a medical card 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 explore new treatment options that may be a better fit for their condition and lifestyle, be sure to consult a doctor.


Suppose a person experiences an asthma attack and does not have a rescue inhaler. In that case, several remedies will help improve the breathing, sitting up straight, doing breathing exercises, using honey, using mustard oil, etc. It is important to check if the symptoms are getting better or worse. If the symptoms worsen, seek immediate medical attention.

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Last reviewed at:
15 Sep 2022  -  4 min read




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