Children's Health and Wellness

Your Child's Asthma: Flare-ups

What happens during a flare-up?

Children with asthma have severe episodes or flare-ups when the air passages in their lungs become narrower and breathing becomes more difficult. Sensitive airways react to certain things, called triggers. Triggers can cause:

  • The lining of the airways (bronchial tubes) to become more inflamed and swollen

  • Tightening of the muscles that surround the airways

  • Increased mucus production

  • Decreased air movement through the lungs

Normal airway

Airway with asthma

Airway with asthma flare-up

Your child may have the following symptoms of a flare-up:

  • It may become harder to breathe.

  • Chest tightness.

  • Coughing.

  • Wheezing or whistling when breathing out. He or she may not have wheezing with very severe flare-ups.

  • Symptoms that wake your child or keep them from sleeping.

  • Trouble walking or talking.

Make sure you know what to do if your child's symptoms worsen. If your child does not get treatment immediately during a flare-up, he or she could stop breathing, or even die.

Online Source: American Academy of Pediatrics. Asthmahttp://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/allergies-asthma/pages/Asthma.asp
Online Source: American Academy of Pediatrics. Asthma Attackhttp://www.healthychildren.org/English/tips-tools/Symptom-Checker/Pages/Asthma-Attack.aspx
Online Source: American Lung Association. Asthma & Children Fact Sheethttp://www.lung.org/lung-disease/asthma/resources/facts-and-figures/asthma-children-fact-sheet.html
Online Editor: Sims, Jane
Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically-affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 6/30/2014
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