Avoid autumn term asthma attacks

Keep your child safe by spotting an asthma attack before it happens

What to do if your child's asthma is getting worse

Expert child asthma nurse Suzanne explains how to protect your child from an asthma attack

Video: What to do if your child's asthma is getting worse

Expert child asthma nurse Suzanne explains how to protect your child from an asthma attack
Transcript for ‘What to do if you’re worried your child’s asthma is getting worse’

0:00 Hello, my name is Suzanne. I’m one of the asthma nurses and I specialise in looking after children with asthma.

0:08 Today, we’re going to talk about what your child may look like if their asthma is getting worse.

0:12 And we’re also going to talk about what you can do about it.

0:17 Quite often, children who are having worsening asthma symptoms do present very slightly differently.

0:23 But quite regularly, you’ll find that a child whose asthma is getting worse may cough more, particularly at night.

0:31 They may get a little bit more breathless; when they’re running around with their friends

0:35 you might notice that they’re out of breath before some of their friends are.

0:39 They may be breathing a little bit faster, even if they’re just sitting down watching TV or something.

0:45 You may find that they make a wheezy type of noise.

0:49 And you may find that they’re complaining of perhaps a tightness sensation in their chest.

0:54 Sometimes, they call it a chest ache, and sometimes, very little children might refer to it as a tummy ache.

1:01 So, if your child’s asthma symptoms are getting worse, particularly if they’ve got a cold,

1:07 there’s a few things that you can do.

1:10 You can give them between two and six puffs of their blue reliever inhaler with the spacer.

1:18 One puff at a time, leaving 30 to 60 seconds between each puff, and you can give those every four hours.

1:27 In the meantime, make an appointment to see your GP or your asthma nurse, on the same day if possible.

1:36 So, you would have to say it’s an urgent appointment that you require, please.

1:40 The other thing that you can do, is keep monitoring your child while you’re waiting for that appointment.

1:46 And if you think that they’re not right, and their asthma symptoms are not getting any better,

1:52 despite you giving them the two to six puffs, you may wish to call an ambulance.

Each year, at the start of the autumn term, there’s a big rise in the number of children rushed to hospital with their asthma.

Fortunately, there’s loads you can do to help your child stay well this year. Follow these simple steps to help you and your child cope with back to school asthma symptoms:

Know how to spot an asthma attack - before it happens

Your child’s symptoms are likely to get worse a few days before an attack. Our asthma nurses say the top signs to look out for are:

  1. Snotty noses – colds and flu often trigger asthma attacks. 
  2. Puffing on their reliever inhaler (usually blue) three or more times a week. 
  3. Coughing and/or wheezing at night and in the early mornings.
  4. Breathlessness – if they’re pausing for breath when talking or struggling to keep up with friends, that’s a sign.  
  5. They might say their tummy or chest hurts – get to know your child’s individual asthma signs

Know what to do if your child’s symptoms are getting worse  

  1. Give between two and six puffs of their reliever inhaler, through a spacer, every four hours. Space the puffs out so there are 30-60 seconds between them. 
  2. Make a same-day appointment with your child's GP.
  3. If the surgery is closed, call 111 for advice.
  4. If you have any questions, call our asthma nurses for advice on 0300 222 5800 (Mon – Fri; 9am – 5pm). You can also visit our child asthma advice

If your child's symptoms get worse quickly, call 999:

  1. While you wait for the ambulance, help them sit up and give a puff of their reliever inhaler every 30-60 seconds - you can give them up to 10 puffs.
  2. If the ambulance takes longer than 15 minutes, you can give your child 10 more puffs of their reliever inhaler.

What to do next when you call an ambulance for your child

Asthma nurse, Suzanne explains what to do next if your child is having an asthma attack and you're waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Video: What to do next when you call an ambulance for your child

Asthma nurse, Suzanne explains what to do next if your child is having an asthma attack and you're waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
Transcript for ‘What to do next when you call an ambulance for your child’

0:01 If you have got somebody else in the house with you,

0:04 you can ask them to call an ambulance while you administer some more puffs of blue to your child.

0:11 So, you can give on this occasion up to ten puffs of the blue inhaler and again through the spacer,

0:18 one puff at a time, leaving 30 to 60 seconds between each puff.

0:24 In the meantime, if you’re really not quite sure what to do and which direction to go in,

0:30 you can call us here at Asthma UK and speak to one of the nurses on the Helpline.

0:35 Or, if it’s out of hours, you can call 111, and they are available 24 hours, seven days a week.

0:44 If you have got to the stage where you’ve called the ambulance and you’re waiting for the ambulance,

0:49 and you’ve done your ten puffs of blue for your child,

0:52 and you’re still not quite happy with how your child’s looking, you can repeat ten puffs in the same way as I mentioned before.

1:01 Or, alternatively, if you’ve still got the 999 call handler on the telephone, they should give you some further advice as to what to do.

Act NOW to protect your child this autumn and winter

It’s thought mould, changing weather and coughs and colds are the reason more children are rushed to hospital at this time of year. Here’s how to avoid a trip to A&E:  

  1. Make an appointment with your GP to make sure your child’s written asthma action plan is up to date.
  2. Download our Asthma School Card, fill it out with your GP and give it to the school.
  3. Visit your child’s GP so they can check your child’s asthma and adjust their prescription to make sure your child is getting the most from their medicine.
  4. Get a fresh, full, reliever inhaler (usually blue) and give it to your child’s school.
  5. Contact our Helpline on 0300 222 5800 (Mon – Fri; 9am – 5pm) to speak to one of our friendly asthma nurses about things like how to manage your child’s asthma and how to talk to school about their asthma.
  6. Visit our online community to get support from other parents whose children have asthma.

With the right asthma care, your child should be able to cope with coughs and colds, sleep easily and stay healthy – so you don’t have to worry.  

 

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