Children with asthma have a reactive airway.  When the airways become irritated by exercise or by breathing in something that irritates the lungs, they react by getting smaller, swelling, and plugging up with mucous.  As the airways get smaller, it becomes harder for air to move in and out, causing shortness of breath, cough, wheezing, and chest tightness.  An asthma attack may last minutes to days, can happen anywhere at any time, and can be life threatening.


Things that can trigger an asthma attack are:

·        colds and viruses

·        exposure to pets, dust, pollen, mold, or odors

·        exercise

·        smoke




1.      When your child starts wheezing, keep him or her calm and playing quietly.  Excitement and physical activity can make wheezing worse.

2.      Do not allow anyone to smoke around your child.

3.      There are many kinds of medicines to treat asthma.  Bronchodilators relax the muscles in the airways and let more air move in and out.  Steroids help decrease swelling and inflammation.  Preventive medicines help make the airways swell less.  Preventive drugs cannot be used to stop attacks once they start.  Your child’s doctor will tell you what medicines to give.

4.      Avoid mold, pollen, and other things that make it hard to breathe.  Stay indoors when the humidity or pollen count is high, and use air conditioning to cool your home instead of opening the windows.


Call your child’s doctor or return to the Emergency Department if:


1.      Your child has increasing shortness of breath (nostrils are flaring, you can see the ribs with each breath, your child is grunting).

2.      Your child is breathing fast.

3.      Your child looks blue or passes out.

4.      Your child looks sick or anxious.

5.      You have any other questions or concerns.