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
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