Be on Alert for the Warning Signs of an Asthma Attack

Be on Alert for the Warning Signs of an Asthma Attack

When your child has asthma, you’re always on the watch for a possible asthma attack: coughing, wheezing, trouble breathing and chest tightness. 

But you should also be on the lookout for these more subtle signs of an attack:

  • Feeling tired 
  • Being short-tempered or irritable 
  • Being nervous or on edge 
  • Itchy neck 

What should you do if your child has these signs? If your doctor has discussed use of a peak-flow meter to monitor asthma symptoms, use it to see if your peak-flow value is low compared to normal, or if other asthma symptoms like wheezing appear, it’s time to use quick-relief, or rescue medicine (called bronchodilators  ). These drugs help relax the muscles in your child’s airways, making breathing easier. 

Make sure you have an Asthma Action Plan outlining what to do when your child’s asthma flares up. Share the plan at your child’s school and with any caregivers, including grandparents and babysitters. 

Signs of worsening asthma 
It’s important to keep your child’s asthma under control.  A change in medicine or other steps might help get your child’s asthma symptoms under control. Talk with your child’s doctor if your child has any of the signs below, which could indicate worsening asthma: 

  • Asthma symptoms are more severe, occur more often, are bothersome at night or cause your child to lose sleep. 
  • Your child’s asthma medicine doesn’t seem to work as well any more. 
  • Your child needs quick-relief medicine   two or more times per week. 
  • Your child needs to go to the hospital because of an asthma attack. 
  • If you use a peak flow to monitor asthma, keep a record of your child’s peak-flow meter   readings so you can tell when the readings are normal or not. Your doctor might also ask you to track these readings daily for a couple of weeks leading up to an office visit. 

To learn more about Asthma and the Taking on Asthma initiative, visit our website.

Originally published: June 30, 2016

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