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