Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

First Aid & Emergencies

Font Size
A
A
A

Acute Asthma Attack Treatment for Children

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 Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on January 05, 2014

First Aid A-Z

  • There are no topics that begin with 'O'
  • There are no topics that begin with 'Q'
  • There are no topics that begin with 'U'
  • There are no topics that begin with 'X'
  • There are no topics that begin with 'Y'
  • There are no topics that begin with 'Z'

Today on WebMD

Antibiotic on hand
Slideshow
3d scan of fractured skull
Slideshow
 
Father putting ointment on boy's face
Slideshow
Person taking food from oven
Q&A
 

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

sniffling child
Slideshow
wound care true or false
Slideshow
 
caring for wounds
Slideshow
Harvest mite
Slideshow
 

WebMD the app

Get first aid information. Whenever. Wherever... with your iPhone, iPad or Android.

Find Out More