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How To Help A Child Having An Asthma Attack

What Are The Triggers

How to Treat an Asthma Attack – First Aid Training – St John Ambulance

There are many different triggers for asthma attacks. Many asthmatics are well aware of their trigger points. However, they may not always be able to avoid them.

Pollen and pollution are increasingly responsible for triggering asthma. Many people find a worsening of their symptoms in Spring, combined with the onset of hay fever. There are many species of grasses, trees and weeds in the UK. Some people are particularly sensitive to some and do not react at all to others. There is also huge variation around the country as to when pollen is released. People can begin to suffer from hay fever as early as January. About 20% of people with hay fever are allergic to birch tree pollen and this, as well as oak and plane trees, are responsible for many unpleasant symptoms and can exacerbate asthma.

Grass pollens are the most common cause of hay fever and usually affect people in May, June and July.

Weed pollens usually release pollen from early spring to early autumn.

If you know pollen is a trigger for your asthma, speak to your GP or asthma nurse.

The Met Office issues really useful pollen advice.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Often people find it particularly difficult to breathe out and have an increase in sticky mucus and phlegm

Its important to note that not everyone will get all of these symptoms.

Limit Your Kid’s Exposure To Triggers And Allergens

Minimize your childs exposure to allergens like pollen, dust, mold, or pet dander, all of which may give him or her breathing trouble. If seasonal allergies are a problem, your doctor might recommend increasing medication during the tough times.

How you breathe starts with what you breathe, says Farber. He recommends also paying attention to other possible triggers, like strong household chemicals such as cleaning products or scent diffusers.

How Can You Tell If You Have Asthma

It can be hard to tell if someone has asthma, especially in children under age 5. Having a doctor check how well your lungs work and check for allergies can help you find out if you have asthma.

During a checkup, a doctor will ask if you cough a lot, especially at night. He or she will also ask whether your breathing problems are worse after physical activity or at certain times of year. The doctor will then ask about chest tightness, wheezing, and colds lasting more than 10 days. He or she will ask whether anyone in your family has or has had asthma, allergies, or other breathing problems. Finally, the doctor will ask questions about your home and whether you have missed school or work or have trouble doing certain things.

The doctor may also do a breathing test, called spirometry, to find out how well your lungs are working by testing how much air you can breathe out after taking a very deep breath before and after you use asthma medicine.

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Responsibilities Of Childcare Centres And Kindergartens In Caring For Children With Asthma

Services that care for or educate children are required to;have;first aid;training for staff,;anaphylaxis;management and;emergency asthma management;plans and strategies to minimise the risk for your child.;The service must,;at all times, have at least one educator in attendance with current and approved:;

  • first aid qualification;
  • anaphylaxis management training;
  • emergency asthma management training.;

For more information;about first aid, anaphylaxis and asthma management in childcare see the;Department of Education and Training website.;;

Side Effects Of Asthma Medication

Asthma UK on Twitter: "Everyone needs to know what to do ...

If you are worried about possible side effects from asthma medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop or reduce doses of medication for your child without speaking with your doctor.;Common side effects from inhaled asthma medication:;


  • sore mouth and throat;
  • fungal throat infections.;

Using a spacer reduces the risk of these side effects. as does rinsing the mouth with water after using an inhaler.;


  • fast;heart beat.;

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Part 1 Of 4: Listening To The Child

  • 1Pay attention to any mention of breathing trouble. An older child or a child who has had previous asthma attacks may be able to feel an attack coming on. If a child tells you directly that she cant breathe or is having trouble breathing, don’t ignore it! During milder phases of an asthma attack, the child may wheeze, although in the severe stages this may or may not be present.
  • 2Take complaints of chest pain seriously. A child having an asthma attack may also report chest pain or a tight feeling in the chest. Chest pain is common during asthma attacks because as air gets trapped in narrowed airways, the pressure in the chest can rise. Because the airway is constricted, you might also notice decreased breath sounds.
  • 3Recognize childrens limitations. A young child or one who’s never had an attack before may not know how to describe or report shortness of breath or chest pain. Instead, she might panic and describe symptoms vaguely: “I feel strange” or “sick.” Watch asthmatic children closely for observable clues of an attack, like shallow breathing or wheezing. Don’t assume that a child is not having an asthma attack just because she doesn’t report breathing trouble or chest pain.
  • Infant 3060 breaths/min
  • Toddler 2440
  • Preschooler 2234
  • How Does The Doctor Know If My Child Has Asthma

    There is no simple test to diagnose asthma. However, there are some signs that may help your child’s physician decide if your child has asthma:

    Wheezing is a common symptom of asthma. You hear wheezing when air is moving through narrowed airways. Be sure to tell your doctor if your child wheezes.

    Chronic cough;is another hint that your child might have asthma. Be especially alert for coughing at night, after exercise, or after exposure to cold air.

    Another clue to look for is;shortness of breath during exercise. Naturally, all children get out of breath when theyre running and jumping, but most begin to breathe normally very quickly after exercise. If you child take a long time to breathe normally after exercise, please tell your doctor.

    Having a;long-lasting cough;after a cold or viral infection may be a sign that your child has asthma.

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    Schedule Regular Doctor’s Appointments

    Kids often need to take prescription medication, like steroids and bronchodilators,;to keep their asthma under control. Your child’s healthcare provider will design a treatment plan and revaluate it at each visit, says Dr. Schroeder. To make sure that your child is using an inhaler correctly, your doctor may also ask for a demonstration, notes the Mayo Clinic.

    Schroeder usually asks his new patients to return for a follow-up visit a month or two after their first appointment; this way, he can see how their treatment plan is working. He also rechecks people every three months, six months, and up to a year, depending on how well theyre doing. Schroeder recommends scheduling a new appointment if your childs symptoms dont improve with new treatment.

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    Learn First Aid For Someone Who Is Having An Asthma Attack

    Having a child with severe asthma

    1. Help the person sit in a comfortable position and take their inhaler.

    When someone has an asthma attack, their airways narrow, making it difficult for them to breathe. An inhaler relaxes the muscles, allowing the airways to expand and ease their breathing.

    2. Reassure the person. If the attack becomes severe, or they don’t have their inhaler, call 999 as soon as possible.

    A mild attack should ease within a few minutes. If it doesnt, they can continue to take their inhaler. You should call 999 if they they dont have their inhaler, their inhaler has no effect, they are becoming worse or they become unable to talk. Do not leave them, in case the attack becomes severe quickly. If you cant call 999, get someone else to do it.;;

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    How To Be Prepared

    Having an asthma attack can be scary, but there are ways that you and your child can prepare.

    The first step you should take after your child has been diagnosed with asthma is to create an action plan. This plan should include information about:

    • which medications your child takes
    • how often your child takes their medication
    • how to notice when your childs asthma symptoms are getting worse
    • when its time to head to the hospital

    Rescue medications can be used at the start of an asthma attack to open the airways. The dosage that your child needs during an asthma attack may be different, so its important to ask your doctor how much medication is needed.

    If theres no rescue medication available or the medication doesnt help, you should seek immediate medical attention. You can also use these steps with your child:

    • Sit your child up straight to keep the airways open as much as possible.
    • Use breathing exercises to help them steady their breathing.
    • Speak quietly, offer a comforting hand, and try to keep them as calm as possible.

    Statistics from the CDC have suggested that roughly half of all children with asthma will have an asthma attack at some point.

    Having an action plan ready can help reduce the severity of an attack, but the most important step is to keep your childs asthma properly managed.

    If youre worried that your childs asthma is not well managed, you may benefit from using the Childhood Asthma Control Test, which is designed for children ages 4 to 11.

    Tests For Other Diseases

    Asthma sometimes is hard to diagnose because symptoms vary widely from child to child and within each child over time. Symptoms may be the same as those of other conditions, such as influenza or other viral respiratory infections. Tests that may be done to determine whether diseases other than asthma are causing your child’s symptoms include:

    • A chest X-ray. A chest X-ray may be used to see whether something else, such as a foreign object, is causing symptoms.
    • A sweat test, which measures the amount of salt in sweat. This test may be used to see whether cystic fibrosis is causing symptoms.

    Other tests may be done to see whether your child has health problems such as sinusitis, nasal polyps, or gastroesophageal reflux disease.

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    What Should I Do After Emergency Asthma Treatment

    When you leave hospital or the emergency room, you should be given details of what medication you need to have. You will also be told of any other steps you need to take to look after yourself in the next few days.

    After youve had emergency asthma treatment for your asthma, you should make an urgent appointment with your doctor or asthma nurse, ideally within two days. This includes if you were taken to hospital or treated by paramedics. Its important to keep your primary care providers in the loop with your current asthma symptoms and asthma emergency and ensure they have a record of your asthma attack.

    When youve had a severe asthma attack that needed ER hospital treatment, your risk of this happening again is higher. Its therefore important to discuss practical ways in which you can reduce your risk of future attacks. Even something as simple as changing the technique you use to take your inhalers could help reduce your risk of a subsequent attack.

    In the long run, its important to have regular asthma reviews with a nurse or doctor. Ideally, this should be at least once a year. Remember to take your asthma inhalers and medications as prescribed and try to avoid any known asthma triggers as this will all help to keep your asthma under control.

    Follow Your Child’s Action Plan

    The anatomy of an asthma attack  the experience of a parent

    An asthma action plan tells you which medicines your child takes every day and how to treat asthma attacks. It may include an asthma diary where your child records peak expiratory flow and/or symptoms. You also can list the cause of the symptoms and the quick-relief medicine used for asthma symptoms. This helps you to identify triggers that can be changed or avoided and to be aware of your child’s symptoms. A plan also helps you make quick decisions about medicine and treatment.

    See an example of an asthma action plan .

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    Responsibilities Of Parents Of Children With Asthma Who Are At School Or Childcare

    If your child or a child in your care has;asthma, you should let the staff at the childcare centre, kindergarten or school know about your childs diagnosis. Once you have done so, and given them an asthma action plan for your child, the school or childcare centre must have staff on duty who have completed accredited first aid and management training for;asthma attacks.

    At the start of every year, ensure you:;

    • Inform your childs school or childcare centre about your childs asthma.;
    • Supply them with an asthma action plan for your child;;updated each year and completed;with;your doctor.;
    • Make sure the school has;unexpired;asthma medication; for your child at school.;
    • Supply them with your emergency contact details and contact details for your doctor.;
    • Keep in contact with the school and inform them if;your childs;health needs change.;

    If your child is going on a school camp or participating in an excursion, you should supply enough medication to cover the duration of the activity.;

    In case of an emergency, staff may give your child medication without authorisation, but should call an ambulance and contact you as soon as possible.;

    How To Tell You Have Asthma

    In this section: Diagnosis and Lung Testing | How To Tell You Have Asthma | Your Healthcare Team

    Asthma is a complex disease to diagnose, and only a healthcare professional is able to make a proper diagnosis.

    If you are concerned that you may have asthma, contact your healthcare provider. In order to confirm an asthma diagnosis, your healthcare provider will take into account your medical and family history, allergies, and conduct lung function testing such as spirometry.

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    Concern About Medicines And Growth

    Some parents worry that children who use inhaled steroid medicines may not grow as tall as other children. A very small difference in height and growth was found in children using inhaled steroid medicines compared to children not using them.footnote 11 And one study showed a very small difference in height in adults who used inhaled steroid medicines as children compared to adults who did not use these medicines.footnote 12 But the use of inhaled steroid medicine has important health benefits for children who have asthma. If you are worried about the effects of asthma medicines on your child, talk with your doctor.

    Part 2 Of 4: Evaluating The Childs Breathing

    Understanding Warning Signs of an Asthma Attack
  • 1Watch for rapid breathing. A normal respiratory rate in an adult is generally no more than 20 breaths per minute. Depending on age, children can have faster resting respiratory rates. It’s best to watch for any general signs of abnormally fast breathing.XResearch source
  • Children between 6-12 years should take about 18-30 breaths per minute.
  • Children 12-18 years should take about 12-20 breaths per minute.
  • 2See if the child is working hard to breathe. A child who is breathing normally mainly uses the diaphragm to breathe. A child having an asthma attack, though, may have to use other muscles in her effort to move more air. Look for signs that the childs neck, chest, and stomach muscles are working harder than usual.
  • A child who is struggling to breathe might assume a hunched posture, with her arms braced on the knees or a table.XResearch source If you notice this posture, the child may be having an asthma attack.
  • 3Listen for wheezing. Children having asthma attacks often make a soft whistling, vibrating sound when they breathe. This usually happens when they exhale, as air is forced through a narrowed passageway.XResearch source
  • You may be able to hear wheezing during both inhaling and exhaling. Note, though, that in mild attacks or early in severe attacks, you may only hear the wheezing when the child breathes out.
  • A cough can also be a sign of a respiratory infection, which can trigger asthma.
  • 80-100% of the child’s personal best PEFR puts her in the “green zone”
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    Personal And Family History

      • Gender. Among children, boys have asthma more often than girls.
      • Race. Asthma is more common in black children than in white children.footnote 2
      • Bronchial tubes that overreact. Children who inherit a tendency of the bronchial tubes to overreact often develop asthma.
      • A history of allergies, including food allergies. Children who have an allergy are more likely than other children to develop asthma. Most children with asthma have allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, or both. Studies show that 40 to 50 out of 100 children who have atopic dermatitis develop asthma. Having atopic dermatitis as a child may also increase the risk of a person having more severe and persistent asthma as an adult.footnote 3
      • A family history of allergies and asthma. Children who have an allergy and asthma usually have a family history of allergies or asthma.
      • Respiratory syncytial virus and wheezing at a young age. Early infection with respiratory syncytial virus that causes a lower respiratory infection and;wheezing in infants increases that babys risk for developing childhood asthma.footnote 4;

    What Should I Do If I Think I Have Asthma

    If you think that you have asthma, the best thing you can do is see your healthcare provider as soon as possible for proper testing and diagnosis. Many people normalize their symptoms, without ever realizing that a symptom-free life could be possible. Its crucial to never ignore or downplay your asthma symptoms, you never know when something could trigger a potentially fatal asthma attack.

    The sooner that you get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, the sooner you can take control of your asthma and live life to the fullest.

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