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what to do if you forget your emergency inhaler


so it's happened, I got to work 2 hours ago and realized I forgot my inhaler. I never leave the house without one but I was in a rush and it slipped my mind. unfortunately I work on an island and take a ferry to work so going home to get it isn't an option.

I already don't feel great, I'm irritable, tired, coughing and it feels like I'm breathing through a straw. It's not unbearable yet and I'm just trying to get through it and not make a fuss.

If anyone has any advice on what they do when they dont have any ventolin then I would really appreciate it. So far staying calm and not hyperventilating is the best I can do to avoid having to make a scene.

20 Replies
EmmaF91Community Ambassador

Step 1 - ask if anyone you work with has a blue inhaler. If they do borrow theirs (use the antibac to clean mouthpiece etc)

Step 2 - if they don’t, try to find a pharmacy that is open and explain the situation. They may be able to issue an emergency inhaler, or if nothing else help organise help!

Step 3 - if you can’t find a pharmacy call 111. They can arrange for an out of hours GP appt to issue one, or may suggest urgent care

Step 4 - if you feel worse go to an urgent care/a&e or call out an Ambo (who can give you a neb if it is needed

Don’t panic. Keep calm. Let people around you know what’s going on so they can help

EmmaF91Community Ambassador in reply to EmmaF91

Start the steps now, before things escalate to *NEEDING* an ambo

Hope this helps!

emptyskies13 in reply to EmmaF91

I'm going to let my coworker know. we don't have a pharmacy on the island so I'm hoping I'll just be able to make it through my shift until I can get home.

I'll definitely try to stay calm though, I know that panicking will just make it worse, thank you

EmmaF91Community Ambassador in reply to emptyskies13

Depending where you are/your workplace, try checking the first aid box. I know sometimes (in cases where there isn’t a pharmacy easy access to medics like off shore etc) they may stick in more ‘normal’ emergency meds, like epi pens and blue inhalers

EmmaF91Community Ambassador in reply to EmmaF91

(Also, not for now obvs, but maybe another day bring a spare emergency inhaler and leave it at work so this doesn’t happen again 😉)

EmmaF91Community Ambassador in reply to emptyskies13

How are you? Did you manage to get yourself sorted safely?

This happened to me once...other than I only live 3 minutes walk from my work place. There was an evening staff meeting and I walked the whole three minute walk...all flat ground. I was absolutely fine when I left& by the time I arrived at work I couldn’t breathe. Then realised I had forgotten my blue! I asked if anyone had one and fortunately someone a new one on them. I needed 8/10 puffs before I could walk home again.

Think all of the above advice is super!

Always keep one at work!

And keep an eye on how full it is. It's not fun when you realise your emergency work inhaler is empty.

I would leave an inhaler at work in my drawer. Or if you desk share take the same bag to work each day and keep an inhaler in that bag.

I was told that a pharmacist will be able to issue one in an emergency Good luck

I tend to have inhalers in coats, bags, any thing i might use i have inhaler in so i know i have one handy. Have you tried a paper bag see if that helps you, take a spare and leave it in a draw or your locker if you have one so if you forget then you got one at work but keep on eye on expire dates.

LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to Pipswhips

I completely agree with advice about keeping spares where you can (especially at work, if the pharmacy isn't an option where you work) but keeping an eye on the expiry date.

However just wanted to jump in here about the paper bag comment. Pipswhips - not sure if you meant breathing into a paper bag if you don't have an inhaler, but this really isn't recommended for asthma. It's often suggested for panic attacks (though I think other techniques are now preferred for that), but asthma is not panic, though some symptoms (such as fast breathing) can happen in both, and some people get a bit panicky when asthma is playing up. However, even if asthma is making someone panicky, the paper bag will not replace their inhaler and it might make things worse for the asthma.

If you do find asthma makes you panicky, there are things you can do like grounding and trying to slow down your breathing (Asthma UK suggests counting to 5 on each in breath and out breath, on this page: asthma.org.uk/advice/manage....)

If in doubt about asthma Vs anxiety in general, this post may help: healthunlocked.com/asthmauk...

Pipswhips in reply to Lysistrata

It was suggested to by consultant years ago to me when I was bad.

EmmaF91Community Ambassador in reply to Pipswhips

I think ideas may have changed since then. They now know that severe asthma attacks can cause co2 retention, and this can lead to fatalities. Using a paper bag to breathe into can cause co2 retention to become more likely, as you end up breathing in more co2

This is why it’s not advised anymore for asthma, as we breathe faster to try and keep o2 levels at a safe level. Anxiety tends to hyperventilate and cause o2 sats to go high (and co2 to go to low), which is why sometimes bag breathing may have been advised (but again pretty sure that’s not suggested either nowadays)

Anyway hope that explains things 😅

As standard I have an inhaler in my bag, one at work, one in my swimming bag.... I make it so I never have to remember one. I learnt the hard way.

I know this doesn’t help now but on the odd occasion when I’ve needed to replenish a few inhalers GPS have been more than happy to. I suspect your dr will be happy to give you a couple extra to get you going


Strong coffee is not nearly as good as Ventolin but “might” help. Is there a pharmacy on the island you could work with?

I absolutely needed to have my phone with me in case asthma kicked up. So I put it in a case on a chain around my neck. I also put my two apartment keys on it so I couldn’t lock my apartment without that chain.

I keep an inhaler in both handbags that I use regularly.

That way am also likely to remember to change it over (with everything else) into different bag.

I also use a nebuliser and keep one at home and one in the car. Have to confess haven’t used one in car recently but keep new batteries and up to date nebulous just in case. Helps for piece of mind.

It is a very good question and a scary situation. I have had that happen before. Also, the Ventolin rescue inhaler doesn’t have a counter on it...and I have had times at work where I had my rescue with me, but it was empty. So now I have a backup to that backup. :) Hope you are alright.

You can get Ventolin in Accuhaler form where open it and just breathe in.

These have a counter so always know how much in and hold then breathe normal.

Exactly same drug just different format. I find it easier to use than the traditional style where you have to make sure the technique is right

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