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Asthma: Emergency Treatment
Health Issue Category
Date of Issue
Revision Date
February, 2006
Related Policies, Administrative Procedures and Forms:

In case of breathing difficulty:

  • have the child stop activity;
  • take the child to as private an area as possible;
  • encourage the child to take reliever medications that may have been prescribed for use during breathing difficulty;
  • have the child assume an upright position, with shoulders relaxed;
  • talk to the child reassuringly and calmly. His or her anxiety can be lessened if you are in control;‚ if the medication does not seem to be helping, or if the child’s condition is continuing to deteriorate, then follow this emergency treatment plan:
Severe Asthma Signs

  • obvious shortness of breath
  • heavy wheezing
  • chest indentation/stomach distention
  • persistent cough
  • difficulty talking (less than 8 words)
  • sweating unrelated to fever or air temperature
  • blue lips and/or nails
  • extreme paleness with shallow breathing
  • need to sit upright and forward
  • accelerated breathing
  • obvious discomfort
  • signs of fatigue
  • agitation
  • confusion
Severe Asthma Emergency Treatment

  • administer inhaled reliever medication
  • repeat the inhaled reliever medication if no improvement in 3-5 minutes
  • go immediately to the emergency department of the closest hospital. If quickly available, consider ambulance transport for access to oxygen
  • take reliever medication along and use every 15-20 minutes if necessary, until arrival at the hospital
  • if medication is not available, call parent and go to the emergency department immediately

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