Asthma Attack

Is this your child’s symptom?

  • Your child is having an asthma attack
  • Use this guide only if a doctor has told you your child has asthma 

Symptoms of Asthma

  • Symptoms of an asthma attack are wheezing, a cough, tight chest, and trouble breathing.
  • Wheezing is the classic symptom. Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling or purring sound. You can hear it best when your child is breathing out.
  • The diagnosis of asthma requires attacks of wheezing that recur. The diagnosis is rarely made before 1 year of age.

Causes (Triggers) of Asthma Attacks

  • Infections that affect breathing (like colds or the flu)
  • Pollens (trees, grass and weeds)
  • Animals (like cats or rabbits)
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Irritants (such as smog, car exhaust, menthol vapors, barns, dirty basement)
  • Food Allergy (Serious). Asthma attacks caused by food allergy can be life-threatening (anaphylaxis). Examples are nuts or fish.

Asthma Attack Scale

  • Mild: No Shortness of Breath (SOB) at rest. Mild SOB with walking. Can talk normally. Speaks in sentences. Can lay down flat. Wheezes not heard or mild. (Green Zone: Peak Flow Rate 80-100% of normal rate)
  • Moderate: SOB at rest. Speaks in phrases. Wants to sit (can’t lay down flat). Wheezing can be heard. Retractions are present (ribs pull in with each breath). (Yellow Zone: Peak Flow Rate 50-80% of normal rate)
  • Severe: Severe SOB at rest. Speaks in single words. Struggling to breathe. Wheezing may be loud. Rarely, wheezing is absent due to poor air movement. Retractions may be severe. (Red Zone: Peak Flow Rate less than 50% of normal rate)
  • Peak Flow Meter: A peak flow meter measures Peak Flow Rates (PFR). It tells us how well a person can move air out of the lungs. A PFR can be used in children 6 years and older.

When to Call Cobb Pediatrics in Marietta, GA for Asthma Attack

Call 911 Now

  • Wheezing and life-threatening allergic reaction to similar substance in the past
  • Starts to wheeze suddenly after bee sting, taking a new medicine, or allergic food
  • Severe trouble breathing (struggling for each breath, can barely speak or cry)
  • Passed out
  • Lips or face are bluish when not coughing
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Mild wheezing lasts over 24 hours on neb or inhaler treatments
  • Sinus pain (not just congestion)
  • Fever lasts more than 3 days
  • Fever returns after gone for more than 24 hours
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Lips or face have turned bluish during coughing
  • Ribs are pulling in with each breath (retractions)
  • Peak flow rate 50-80% of normal rate after using neb or inhaler (Yellow Zone)
  • Wheezing not gone 20 minutes after using neb or inhaler
  • Breathing much faster than normal
  • Nonstop coughing not improved after using neb or inhaler
  • Severe chest pain
  • Need to use asthma medicine (neb or inhaler) more often than every 4 hours
  • Fever over 104° F (40° C)
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent
     

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Don’t have written asthma action plan from your doctor
  • Use an inhaler, but don’t have a spacer
  • Miss more than 1 day of school per month for asthma
  • Asthma limits exercise or sports
  • Asthma attacks wake child up from sleep
  • Use more than 1 inhaler per month
  • No asthma check-up in over 1 year
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Mild asthma attack

View Asthma Attack Treatment Options

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