Asthma Attack

Disponible En Espanol

Care at Home

  • ASTHMA QUICK-RELIEF MEDICINE: * Your child's quick-relief (rescue) medicine is albuterol or xopenex. * Start it at the first sign of any wheezing, shortness of breath or hard coughing. * Give by inhaler with a spacer (2 puffs each time) or use a neb machine. * Repeat it every 4 hours if your child is having any asthma symptoms. * Never give it more often than 4 hours without talking with your child's doctor. * COUGHING. The best 'cough med' for a child with asthma is always the asthma medicine. (Caution: don't use cough suppressants. If over 6 years old, cough drops may help a tickly cough.) * Caution: If the inhaler hasn't been used in over 7 days, prime it. Test spray it twice into the air before using it for treatment. Also, do this if it is new. * Use the medicine until your child has not wheezed or coughed for 48 hours. * SPACER. Always use inhalers with a spacer. It will get twice the amount of medicine into the lungs.
  • ASTHMA CONTROLLER MEDICINE: * Your child may have been told to use a controller drug. Examples are inhaled steroids or cromolyn. * During asthma attacks, keep giving this medicine to your child as ordered.
  • HAY FEVER: * For signs of nasal allergies (hay fever), it's okay to give allergy medicine. Reason: Poor control of nasal allergies makes asthma worse.
  • FLUIDS: * Try to get your child to drink lots of fluids. * Goal: Keep your child well hydrated. * Reason: It will loosen up any phlegm in the lungs. Then it's easier to cough up.
  • HUMIDIFIER: * If the air in your home is dry, use a humidifier. Reason: Dry air makes coughs worse.
  • AVOID OR REMOVE ALLERGENS: * Shower to remove pollens or other allergens from the body and hair. * Avoid known causes of asthma attacks (such as smoke or cats). * Do not take part in sports during the attack.
  • WHAT TO EXPECT: * If treatment is started early, most asthma attacks are quickly brought under control. * All wheezing should be gone by 5 days.
  • CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF: * Trouble breathing occurs * Asthma quick-relief medicine (neb or inhaler) is needed more than every 4 hours * Wheezing lasts over 24 hours * Your child becomes worse
  • WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: * Over 10% of children have asthma. * Your child's asthma can flare up at any time. * When you are away from your home, always take your child's medicines with you. * The sooner you start treatment, the faster your child will feel better. * Here is some care advice that should help.


The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
    • You can have a conversation with your child's doctor.
    • Your child's doctor can perform a physical examination and any necessary tests.
    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

If you think that your child is having a medical emergency, call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!

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