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Niswonger Children’s Hospital offers comprehensive treatment of congenital, inherited and acquired disorders of the lungs and respiratory system. Our team integrates clinical care with the latest education to ensure a top-level of care to our patients.
Asthma is a long-term breathing condition caused when tubes carrying air to the lungs become smaller because of swelling or tightening muscles. During an attack, patients find it hard to breathe, often gasping for breath.
Many children with asthma need two types of medicine: controllers, also called everyday medicines, and quick relievers. Controller medicines help keep airway swelling down and must be used daily, even when the child is feeling well, in order to work best. They are not helpful during an asthma attack, but can help prevent asthma attacks. Quick-reliever (also called rescue) medicines help kids who are having trouble breathing. These medicines make it easier to breathe during an asthma attack and also can help with less serious problems such as coughing or wheezing caused by a cold.
Red flags, or danger signs, let you know that it’s time to use a quick-reliever medicine and to call your doctor or 911. Some red flags are:
- Nostrils flaring
- Breathing hard and fast; skin between the ribs pulling in more than normal
- Trouble walking, talking or crying
- Lips or fingernails turning blue
At the sign of any red flag symptom, give a quick-reliever/rescue medicine right away. If the medicine doesn’t help within 5 to 10 minutes, call 911.
Asthma attacks happen less often if triggers are avoided. Triggers are things that cause people with asthma to cough or wheeze. Some common triggers are:
- Cigarette smoke. People with asthma should never be around cigarette smoke or cigarette smoke smell. No one should smoke in the child’s house or the car in which the child rides. People smoking outside the house should wear a jacket they can leave outside.
- Colds and illnesses
- Season changes
- Weather changes
- Cold air
- Playing hard or exercising – if your child has trouble breathing while playing, call your doctor and ask to talk about asthma control.
Asthma Control Goals:
- No coughing or wheezing
- Sleeping through the night
- Can do regular activities
- Using quick reliever medicine no more than two times a week