It can be difficult to know whether your child is having a mild,
moderate, or severe
asthma attack. The following chart may help you. Talk
with a doctor if you are unable to tell how severe your child's
Gauging the severity of your child's asthma attack
Rapid, and the child may appear preoccupied with breathing; may
want to sit upright to help breathing
Mild or no shortness of breath; can speak in full
Short of breath; can speak in short phrases or
parts of sentences
Very short of breath; speaks in single words or
Does not or slightly uses chest muscles to
Uses chest and neck muscles to breathe. The skin
between, under, and above the ribs collapses inward with each breath.
Uses chest and neck muscles to breathe and may open nostrils
wide; may clutch at the chest
Normal skin color
Pale skin color
Very pale or bluish skin color; may sweat more than
Wheezes while breathing out
Wheezes while breathing in and out
Does not wheeze while breathing. This indicates
little or no air in the airways.
Not as alert as usual and may appear anxious
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 14, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this