Asthma in Children

Asthma is a chronic disease. With asthma, breathing is sometimes difficult due to these changes in the lungs:

  • Swelling of the lining in the airways
  • Tightening of the muscles around the airways (a spasm)
  • Extra mucus in the airways

Asthma is not contagious. It is a lifelong disease which can be controlled with daily medications. Although asthma is a chronic disease, anyone with asthma can have an acute (sudden) attack of symptoms.

Even if your child has no symptoms, being asthmatic means that there is almost always some inflammation/swelling in the airways. Triggers can cause inflammation to increase, which may cause asthma symptoms to worsen. Every child has different and specific triggers.

In order to reduce asthma attacks:

  • Follow your asthma plan given to you by your child’s doctor.
  • Give medicines as directed.
  • Keep your child away from smoke and known triggers, if possible.

Consult your doctor if your child gets a cold or allergies.

Signs and symptoms of asthma include:

  • Repeated coughing
  • Whistling sounds called “wheezing”
  • Complaints like “My chest feels tight” or “My chest hurts”
  • Activity decreased from the normal level
  • Fast breathing
  • Runny nose
  • Increased work of breathing

During an asthma attack:

  • Stay calm and review the doctor’s instructions.
  • Give albuterol treatment.
  • Offer your child frequent drinks of water or juice. Fluids help the mucus stay moist and loose.
  • If your child is coughing, encourage him/her to cough up the mucus and spit it out in order to clear the airway.
  • Give medications prescribed by the doctor as directed.
  • Have your child rest quietly.

Call your child’s doctor if:

  • Your child has increased difficulty breathing unrelieved by albuterol or other rescue medicines on your child’s asthma plan.
  • Your child breathes fast.
  • Your child cannot take medicines or fluids by mouth.
  • Your child repeatedly coughs until vomiting.
  • Your infant/young child’s chest sinks in while breathing.

Seek emergency care/call 911 if:

  • Your child continues to wheeze, breathe hard, or cough, even though rescue medications have been given.
  • Your child becomes sweaty or complains of chest pain.
  • Your child has a bluish color around his/her mouth.
  • Your child’s chest sinks in when he/she breathes in