Asthma attacks in children

Learn to handle asthma attacks in children

When a child suffers an asthmatic attack it is often caused by a combination of different factors. The child may have been exposed to substances he or she is intolerant to while also suffering from a viral infection, spending time in cold weather or having exercise-induced asthma.

The initial stages of asthma disease in children, especially a severe asthma attack with breathing difficulty, can cause the most worry. That is why it is important not to panic!

Support your child during the asthma attack by acting calmly and rationally. Follow this advice from St Johns Ambulance:

What you need to do - Asthma attacks

  • First, reassure them and ask them to breathe slowly and deeply which will help them control their breathing.
  • Then help them use their reliever inhaler straight away. This should relieve the attack.
  • Next, sit them down in a comfortable position.
  • If it doesn't get better within a few minutes, it may be a severe attack. Get them to take one or two puffs of their inhaler every two minutes, until they've had 10 puffs.
  • If the attack is severe and they are getting worse or becoming exhausted, or if this is their first attack, then call 999/112 for an ambulance.
  • Help them to keep using their inhaler if they need to. Keep checking their breathing, pulse and level of response.
  • If they lose consciousness at any point, open their airway, check their breathing and prepare to treat someone who's become unconscious.

Many children will suffer with asthma attacks especially during the night, early in the morning, after intense exercise or when he or she has been inhaling a substance irritating the airways.

Some people describe their asthma attacks like chest pressure or like a rope being tightly tied around the chest. Breathing is often whistling or wheezing like during an attack. A prolonged, irritated cough and an increased production of viscous mucus usually also occur.

No child should feel bad because of asthma. Today there are good treatments available that make sure that most children never have to suffer asthma attacks.

UK/GEN/15/0056b              Date of preparation: December 2015