What Happens During an Asthma Attack?

Asthma is a respiratory condition characterized by inflammation and constriction of the bronchial tubes. Asthma usually doesn’t cause constant distress, but has flare-ups that are triggered by stress, pollutants, exercise, or allergens. An asthma attack can last from just a few minutes to several days, depending on the nature of the attack and what caused it. 

At First Pediatric Care Center, Dr. Margaret Lubega provides support for your child with asthma. She helps you create an asthma action plan that includes quick-acting rescue medications and possibly other longer-acting medications, such as corticosteroids. This action plan should be shared with loved ones, caretakers, and school officials. If an asthma attack won’t resolve, seek medical treatment immediately.  

Why is my child having an asthma attack?

Children are susceptible to specific triggers, which causes an increased narrowing and inflammation in their airways, leading to an asthma attack. For some children, the common cold can be a trigger.

Other triggers for an asthma attack can include exposure to smoke or allergens, including dust mites, pollen, and animal dander. Even strong scents, such as perfume or room deodorizers, changes in weather, hard play time or sports events, and crying or laughing are possible triggers.

Dr. Lubega helps you determine what triggers exacerbate your child’s condition so you can avoid them. Triggers aren’t always avoidable, however, and your child may experience a worsening of their condition.

What is happening during an asthma attack?

During an asthma attack, a person is literally drowning in air. Your child’s airways inflame and swell. Muscles responsible for breathing contract and the respiratory system begins to produce extra mucus. The tubes that deliver air in and out of the lungs become more narrow.

This causes wheezing, coughing, and trouble breathing. Look for additional symptoms that include:

Quick-acting medications, most often albuterol that is delivered with an inhaler or nebulizer machine, can resolve symptoms by relaxing the airway muscles. In more severe cases, systemic corticosteroids may be administered to reduce airway inflammation. 

If you’ve given your child their rescue medication, stay calm, but observant. If symptoms don’t improve and your child’s attack persists, call our office right away. If it’s after hours or your child’s symptoms are severe and they cannot breathe, seek emergency care, because an asthma attack can be life-threatening.

Can I head off an asthma attack?

You may be able to head off a severe asthma attack by learning to recognize flare-ups before they progress to a full asthma exacerbation. If your child needs to use their rescue inhaler more often than usual, has a worsening cough, or has diminished tolerance for exercise, call our office for advice.

You also benefit from a visit to our office if your child has been diagnosed with asthma and has a respiratory infection like the flu, a cold, or sinusitis. Dr. Lubega provides management of these illnesses that can help prevent asthma attacks.

If your child exhibits breathing troubles, check with us at First Pediatric Care Center. Dr. Lubega can screen your child for asthma and develop a treatment plan for when exacerbations arise. To make an appointment, call the office or book a visit online right now. We’re committed to helping children living in and around Gastonia, North Carolina, live the healthiest, most normal lives possible. 

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