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14th April 2015

When asthma attacks

Imagine gasping for breath and trying not to panic. You’re wheezing, coughing, trying to breath because your life depends on it.

Peopling living with asthma know how it feels when an attack begins. They know the fear. They know the dread.

But if you have never had an asthma attack, follow 15-year-old Chris as his medical team battle to help him through a severe attack.


Chris’s airways are shutting down. He raises his shoulders in a desperate effort to open his lungs as much as possible but it’s not working.

“I’m going to die.”

“You’re not going to die. It’ll be okay.”

The doctors reassure Chris but they know that his condition is potentially life-threatening.

Medication can help to relax the muscles around the lungs, opening the airways.

In severe attacks like the one featured in this video, the lungs can become so inflamed and clogged with mucus that it makes it difficult for the drugs to work.

Chris’s doctors find another way to solve the problem, ensuring his body gets the oxygen it needs.

It’s a distressing video but – spoiler alert! – Chris is back playing sports by the end of the clip.

What would you do?

Would you know what to do if your child, partner, friend or colleague was having an asthma attack?

This first aid video explains how to recognise an asthma attack and how to respond.