What to do if a child has an asthma attack

Occasionally an asthma attack may occur no matter how careful you are about taking your asthma treatment and avoiding triggers. An asthma attack normally doesn't occur suddenly; most people find that asthma attacks are the result of a gradual worsening of symptoms over a few days. If your symptoms are getting worse, do not ignore them. Quite often using your reliever may be all that is needed to get your asthma under control again. At other times symptoms are more severe and more urgent action is required.

The Five Minute Rule

The Five Minute Rule contains the recommended steps to follow in an asthma attack.

1. Give your child their reliever inhaler immediately, preferably using a spacer. This is usually blue and opens up narrowed air passages.
2. Get your child to sit down in an upright position and loosen tight clothing.
3. Stay calm and reassure your child. Attacks may be frightening and it is important the you and your child stay calm.
4. If there is no immediate improvement continue to give the reliever inhaler every minute for five minutes or until symptoms improve: two puffs if MDI/evohaler or one puff if turbohaler.
5. If symptoms do not improve in five minutes, or if you are in doubt, call 999 or a doctor urgently. Continue to give reliever inhaler until help arrives or symptoms improve.

Do not be afraid of causing a fuss, even at night.

If you are admitted to hospital or an accident and emergency department because of your asthma, take details of your treatment with you. Bring your asthma management plan if you have one to the hospital.

You should also make an appointment with your doctor or nurse after you are discharged from hospital, so that you can review your asthma treatment to avoid the situation rising again.

Download your Asthma Attack Card Here

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Information provided by the Asthma Society of Ireland