First Aid: Asthma Flare-Ups
During an asthma flare-up (or attack), the airways in the lungs become irritated and swollen, making breathing harder.
Some flare-ups are mild, but others can be life-threatening. So it's important to know how to spot them and deal with them right away.
Signs & Symptoms
Of an asthma flare-up include:
- chest tightness
- shortness of breath
Of a severe asthma flare-up include:
- trouble breathing even when sitting still
- difficulty speaking without pausing
- feeling tired or drowsy
- blueness around the lips
- the areas below the ribs, between the ribs, and in the neck sink in with each breath
What to Do
Doctors usually give patients a detailed asthma action plan that includes how to prevent and handle flare-ups. If your child has an asthma flare-up, follow the plan's treatment guidelines. Because each child's asthma is different, each action plan will be too.
Get Emergency Medical Care or Call 911 if Your Child:
- begins to show signs of a severe flare-up
- has a flare-up that enters the danger zone (red zone) of the asthma action plan
To help prevent flare-ups:
- Help your child to avoid the triggers that can cause flare-ups.
- Make sure your child takes the long-term control medicine as directed by the doctor — even when feeling well.
- Make sure your child always has the prescribed medicines and takes them to school and on trips.
- Be sure your child gets a flu shot every year.
- Work with the doctor to follow your child's asthma action plan.
Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: July 2018