Your Asthma Action Plan

Avoiding future asthma attacks

If you've had an asthma attack and you're recovering well, it's the perfect time to use this practical guide and cut your risk of having another one.

  1. 2 Avoiding future asthma attacks

So why did I have an asthma attack?

"Identifying what caused an asthma attack can help you work out how to stop it causing another one in future," says Asthma UK specialist nurse Kathy. "Asthma attacks can feel like they came out of the blue, but there is usually a good reason or mix of reasons."

Check your routine for these three most common reasons. If any sound like they might have caused your recent asthma attack, use our simple ideas to help you tackle them.

1. Not using your preventer medicine as prescribed

How can this cause an asthma attack?
Forgetting, stopping or reducing how much you use your preventer inhaler can cause problems. It means you're not getting your daily dose of medicine to soothe your sensitive, inflamed airways and make them less likely to react to triggers. If you haven't got a preventer inhaler, now is a good time to talk to your GP about getting one.

"It can be easy to think that if you feel well you don't need to take your preventer," says Kathy. "Or to wonder if it's doing anything because you can't feel it working. But your preventer medicine soothes your inflamed airways over time, building up the best level of protection if you take it every day. If you don't take your preventer medicine as prescribed, your airways become sensitive and are more likely to react to your asthma triggers. This leaves you open to an asthma attack."

Do this to help prevent another attack
Use our tips to make taking your medicines every day much easier. Keep your preventer next to something else you need to do every day, set a reminder on your phone, or keep it next to your keys so you see it before you leave the house each morning. Once it becomes a habit it will become second nature. 

2. Using your inhaler the wrong way – without even realising

How can this cause an asthma attack?
There are lots of different inhalers out there. They all have an ideal technique to get the medicine to your lungs instead of in your mouth or the back of your throat.

"It's easy to fall back into using an old technique when you've moved on to a new type of inhaler that needs something slightly different," says Kathy. "Or to slip into using the same inhaler less than perfectly over time. This means you might not get the full dose of medicine to soothe your inflamed airways, so you get less protection from asthma attacks."

Do this to help prevent another attack
Watch Asthma UK's inhaler technique videos to check you're using the right technique for your inhaler. If the video makes you think you're not doing it quite right or you can't get the hang of it, you can always see your GP or asthma nurse for an in-person check.

3. A new trigger – or high level of one you already know

How can this cause an asthma attack?
There are lots of things that can irritate your sensitive airways. Thinking back to the time before this asthma attack happened, are there any triggers that were new or at high levels?

"Are you on a new route to work that's more polluted? Have you moved house to somewhere mouldy? Were you more stressed?" says Kathy. "Have you been around more smokers on a night out? Did you get a new pet? Has the weather been unusually hot or cold, or the pollen count been high?"

Do this to help prevent another attack
Keep a record of anything you think might have been different or might have affected your asthma and tell your GP or asthma nurse. They can update your action plan and give you advice on how to handle any new triggers. 

Get and use an action plan 

"If you've had an asthma attack, it's crucial to get your asthma action plan updated. If you haven't got one, download one and get your doctor to fill it in," says Kathy.

If you do one thing to cut your risk of an asthma attack, do this: get an up-to-date asthma action plan.

"Talk through what happened so your doctor can review what you need to keep your asthma well controlled. They might change the kind of medicine you take or the dose or update your asthma attack warning signs.

"Once you've got your plan, use it," says Kathy. "Take a picture of it to keep on your phone and share with friends and family so they feel confident about how to help if you need it."

Extra ideas for whatever's affecting your asthma

Other challenges

If you need advice about anything to do with your asthma attack and recovery, give our friendly expert Asthma UK nurses a call on 0300 222 5800, or message them via WhatsApp on 07378 606728