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Asthma in Children - When to Call a Doctor

Call911or other emergency services immediately if:

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child's symptoms do not get better after following his or her asthma action plan.
  • Your child has new or worse trouble breathing.
  • Your child's coughing and wheezing get worse.
  • Your child coughs up dark brown or bloody mucus (sputum).
  • Your child has a new or higher fever.

Call your doctor if:

  • Your child needs to use quick-relief medicine on more than 2 days a week (unless it is just for exercise).
  • Your child coughs more deeply or more often, especially if there is more mucus or a change in the color of the mucus.
  • Your child has asthma and his or her PEF has been getting worse for 2 to 3 days.

If you think your child has asthma

If your child has not been diagnosed with asthma but has asthma symptoms, call your doctor and make an appointment for an evaluation.

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is a period of time during which you and your doctor observe your child's symptoms or condition without using medical treatment.

If you think your child has asthma, watchful waiting is not appropriate. See your doctor.

If your child has been getting treatment for 1 to 3 months and is not improving, ask your doctor whether the child needs to see a specialist (allergist or pulmonologist).

Watchful waiting may be appropriate if your child follows his or her asthma action plan and stays within the green zone. Monitor your child's symptoms, and continue to avoid asthma triggers.

Who to see

Health professionals who can diagnose and treat asthma include:

Your child may need to see a specialist (an allergist or pulmonologist) if he or she:

  • Has moderate persistent to severe persistent asthma.
  • Has other medical conditions that make it hard to treat asthma.
  • Needs more education or has difficulty following the asthma action plan.
  • Is not meeting the goals of treatment after several months of therapy.
  • Has had a life-threatening asthma attack.
  • Needs skin testing for allergies.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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