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    Acute Asthma Attack Treatment for Children

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    Call 911 if the child is:

    • Having a hard time breathing
    • Constantly coughing
    • Unable to talk, eat, or play
    • Vomiting
    • Turning blue in the lips or fingers
    • Convulsing while breathing (using stomach muscles excessively to breathe)

    If he does not have the above symptoms but is still complaining of trouble breathing or coughing, do the following:

    1. Notify the Child’s Health Care Provider Immediately

    2. Follow the Child’s Asthma Plan, if Possible

    • Find out if the child has an individualized asthma action plan from a health care provider.
    • If so, follow directions for giving asthma medication and seeking medical help for acute asthma attack.
    • Bring a copy of the child’s asthma action plan to show the ER staff.

    3. Give Quick-Relief Medicine

    If the child has no asthma action plan but has an inhaler:

    • Sit child upright comfortably and loosen tight clothing.
    • Give one puff of quick-relief medicine from child's inhaler, always with a spacer.
    • Ask child to take four breaths from spacer.
    • Give three more puffs, with four breaths between each.
    • Wait four minutes. If there’s no improvement, give another four puffs.

    If the child doesn’t have an inhaler, use one from a first aid kit. If you are sure this is an asthma attack and the child has used quick-relief asthma medicine before (albuterol), you can borrow someone else’s.

    Follow Up

    • An emergency room doctor will check the severity of the attack and provide treatment, including medication.
    • The child may be discharged home or hospitalized for further care, depending on response to treatment.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on January 21, 2016
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