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Health Information For Parents
An asthma flare-up is when asthma symptoms get worse, making kids wheeze, cough, or be short of breath. An asthma flare-up can happen even when asthma is controlled.
Asthma flare-ups are also called asthma attacks or exacerbations.
Asthma is a disease of the breathing tubes that deliver air in and out of the lungs. When someone has asthma, these airways (also called bronchial tubes and bronchioles) might be slightly inflamed or swollen, even when the person seems to be breathing fine.
During a flare-up:
gets worse. Sticky mucus clogs the airways and their walls get more swollen.
These problems leave very little room in the airways for air to flow through — think of a straw that’s being pinched.
People with asthma have airways that are overly sensitive to some things (called triggers). Being around triggers can bring on asthma symptoms.
The most common trigger in kids are viral respiratory infections, such as colds. Other common triggers include:
Many people with asthma also have allergies, which are another important flare-up trigger.
If not treated, a flare-up can last for several hours or even days. Quick-relief medicines (also called rescue medicines or fast-acting medicines) often stop the symptoms pretty quickly. A person should feel better once the flare-up ends, although this can take several days, especially if a viral infection was the trigger.
Asthma flare-ups can vary in strength and length. They can happen without warning, causing sudden coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing.
Flare-ups should be treated right away. So it’s important to know their early warning signs, including:
If the flare-up is severe, a kid might:
Because they can be life-threatening, flare-ups demand attention. Your child might need to take quick-relief medicine (which acts quickly to relieve symptoms), visit the doctor, or even go to the hospital.
Following the instructions in your child’s asthma action plan can help you know what to do when a flare-up happens.
To help prevent flare-ups:
Asthma keeps more kids home from school than any other chronic illness. Learn how to help your child manage the condition, stay healthy, and stay in school.
During a flare-up or attack, it’s hard to breathe. While some flare-ups are mild, others can be life threatening, so it’s important to deal with them right away.
If your child has asthma, find out when you need to go to the ER.
Asthma control can take a little time and energy to master, but it’s worth the effort. Learn more about ways to manage your child’s asthma.
Find out how this written plan can help you care for your child with asthma.
Visit our Asthma Center for information and advice on managing and living with asthma.
Asthma means breathing problems. Find out what’s going on in the lungs and how to stay healthy, if you have it.
How can you prepare for an asthma flare-up? Find out in this article for kids.
Asthma makes it hard to breathe. Find out more in this article for kids.
Asthma is a lung condition that makes it hard to breathe. Learn all about asthma here.
Asthma flare-ups, or attacks, can be handled, but it’s even better if you can prevent them from happening. Find out how to deal with flare-ups.
Asthma medicine comes in two main types: quick-relief and long-term control medicines. Even if a child takes a long-term control medicine regularly, quick-relief medicine is still needed to handle flare-ups.
Here’s steps to remove or minimize triggers at home that cause asthma flare-ups.
Find out what can make your asthma worse, and what to do about it.
If you have asthma, certain things may cause you to cough and have trouble breathing. Find out more about asthma triggers in this article for kids.
Kids who have asthma need to take medicine. But what kind of medicine do they take and what does it do? Let’s find out.
Two different types of medicines are used to treat asthma: long-term control medicines and quick-relief medicines. Read about how they work, and why people might need to take them.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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