Managing an Asthma Attack

What Happens During An Asthma Attack?

  • The inside of the airways become more swollen and makes more mucous.
  • Muscles around the outside of the airways tighten and decrease the flow of air.
  • When the opening inside the airways becomes smaller, it becomes harder to breathe.


Early Warning Signs (Clues) Asthma Is Getting Worse:

  • The start of a cold or a runny nose
  • Cough at night or early morning
  • Cough, wheeze (whistling noise), shortness of breath or chest tightness with activities
  • Using Reliever medicine (blue) more than 3 times a week for asthma symptoms


Signs Of An Asthma Attack:

  • Your child may feel short of breath and complain of a tight feeling in the chest. They may have trouble talking, exercising or eating.
  • You may hear wheezing. During a severe asthma attack, there may be no noise because the airways are so blocked.
  • As your child breathes in, the skin may be sucked in at the throat, collarbone or between or under the ribs.


If Your Child Is Having An Asthma Attack:


  • Move your child away from known asthma triggers.
  • *Give Reliever medicine for symptoms. It should help within 10 minutes. If the Reliever medicine is needed every 4 hours, call your doctor.
  • After Reliever medicine is given, help your child to relax. Breathing exercises may help older children. They should be practiced when your child is well.


When To Go To The Emergency Department

  • If your child needs Reliever medicine in less than 3 hours   OR
  • Reliever medicine does not begin to improve breathing within 10 minutes.


  • Use Reliever medicine as much as needed on the way to the Emergency Department.

*Examples of Reliever medicine are Salbutamol: Ventolin®, Airomir®, Terbutaline: Bricanyl®, Oxeze®

 *Some patients use a Combination medicine, Symbicort® as Controller and Reliever therapy. Symbicort® may be used as a Reliever medicine.


How To Prevent An Asthma Attack

  • Take an active part in caring for your child's asthma.
  • Watch for signs that asthma is getting worse.
  • Have your doctor complete an Asthma Action Plan and know how to use it.
  • Know your child's asthma triggers and avoid them.
  • Know about your child's asthma medicines and how to use them.
  • See your doctor to review your Asthma Action Plan twice a year.
  • Learn as much as you can about asthma.


Asthma Allie Says:

 "Asthma Can be Controlled!"


The Children's Allergy & Asthma Education Centre © 2011