Flare-ups can be dangerous. If your child starts to have frequent flare-ups and needs rescue medication more than a couple of times a week, it's time to talk with your child's doctor. It's possible that adjustments need to be made to your child's asthma action plan.
How Can I Predict a Flare-Up?
The severity and duration of asthma flare-ups vary from person to person and even from attack to attack. Flare-ups may happen without warning, with sudden coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing. But because people with asthma have inflamed airways that worsen with gradual exposure to triggers, flare-ups can also build up over time, especially in people whose asthma isn't well controlled.
Flare-ups can and should be treated at their earliest stages, so it's a good idea to recognize early warning signs that a child might experience just as a flare-up is beginning. These clues are unique to each child and may be the same or different with each asthma flare-up. Some early warning signs include:
- coughing, even if your child has no cold
- throat clearing
- rapid or irregular breathing
- unusual fatigue
- trouble sitting or standing still
- restless sleep
A peak flow meter can be a useful tool in predicting when a flare-up may be on its way.
How Can I Prevent My Child From Having an Asthma Flare-Up?
You can best manage your child's asthma by doing all you can to avoid flare-ups. That means working with your child to:
- take all medication as the doctor prescribed
- keep rescue medicine on hand at all times
- take peak flow meter readings as recommended by the doctor
- avoid triggers, such as allergens
What Do I Do When My Child Has a Flare-Up?
Not all flare-ups can be prevented. Because they can be life threatening, asthma flare-ups demand immediate attention. Your child might need to take rescue medication, visit the doctor, or even go to the hospital. For that reason, you should have an asthma action plan.
Talk to your child's doctor about creating this written plan, which provides instructions about how to handle changes in your child's breathing. This will help you know exactly what to do, even in emergency situations.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: April 2007
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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