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Is My Child’s Asthma Attack an Emergency?

Albuterol Inhaler, Alvesco, Asthma, Childhood Asthma

Not every asthma attack will require a visit to the hospital emergency room. But how do you tell when an asthma attack warrants a hospital visit. If you found this writeup, you may be asking yourself “Is my child’s asthma attack an emergency?” As a mother who has been through this countless times before with more than one child, I have learned a great deal about what to watch for.

Before you read any further, if your child is not breathing, has passed out, has blue lips or skin, or is struggling to breathe right now, your child should be under the care of emergency medical personnel. If not and the above applies, you need to call 911 and you should not be browsing the internet right now. An asthma attack can be a life-threatening situation. If your child is not in an emergency situation, read on for future reference. A licensed doctor’s advice should always be followed above anyone else’s, but hopefully my experiences and research can help give you an idea of what you may be looking for.

Signs and Symptoms of an Asthma Attack

Rescue Inhaler Not Working – If your child has been diagnosed with asthma, his or her pediatrician has likely prescribed an inhaler that is to be used in case certain symptoms arise. If this rescue inhaler is not helping to ease those symptoms, an ER visit may be necessary.

Wheezing – If your child is wheezing and it cannot be helped or controlled following the doctor’s recommended treatment plan (generally a rescue inhaler for immediate relief), your child may need to visit the ER for his asthma.

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Shortness of Breath, Trouble Breathing – When asthma causes shortness of breath or trouble breathing, a rescue inhaler can be used. If it isn’t helping your child, he or she may need to visit the ER.

Blue Lips or Fingernails – Blue lips or fingernails are a sign of oxygen loss, which can be caused by severe asthma attacks. If your child’s lips are blue, you need to call 911 right away.

Fatigue – Fatigue is also a sign of a severe asthma attack. The constant struggle to breathe coupled with oxygen loss can wear out a child’s body.

Trouble Talking – A child having a severe asthma attack may have some difficulty speaking properly. This is because talking requires breathing.

Low Peak Flow Results – If your child uses a peak flow meter, low results can indicate an asthma attack that needs immediate attention.

Panic or Anxiety – Asthma attacks can also cause panic or anxiety. A child having an asthma attack needs to remain calm, as stress can worsen the situation for some. Click Here for some suggestions that may help in keeping an asthmatic child calm in the ER.

Muscle Retractions, Chest Tightening, Pain – Tightening or retraction of chest and neck muscles can also indicate an asthma attack. These muscles may expand and contract tighter and more quickly than usual when a child is struggling to breathe.

How Severe is Your Child’s Asthma Attack?
Familiarizing yourself with your child’s usual asthma attacks and what the symptoms are controlled and uncontrolled is extremely important. Your child’s doctor is helpful and necessary in this regard. Keep in mind that not every child will have exactly the same reaction, nor will asthma attacks of an individual be exactly the same each time. The above signs and symptoms can help with an assessment. However, if there is any question, it is always best to err on the side of caution than put your child at risk because you think it isn’t that bad.

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Prevention of Emergency Asthma Attacks
The best prevention of emergency asthma attacks in children is to always follow the advice of your child’s doctor. Keep up with the treatment plan advised and watch your child for changing symptoms or signs that the action plan is no longer working as well. Anything different should be followed by a call to the pediatrician and all appointments should be scheduled as advised by the doctor. As mentioned above, if your child is in any questionable situations when it comes to asthma, it’s always better to be cautious.

Possibly Helpful Resources for Asthmatics:

Mayo Clinic Asthma Control Test

— Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

AAFA Home Page

American Lung Association

— Asthma Action America

— Quest for the Code Asthma Game for Kids & Teens

— Asthma Resources from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

— Allergy and Asthma network/Mothers of Asthmatics

*Note that the author is not a licensed medical professional. Always contact a licensed physician for matters pertaining to health.


Personal Experiences