When to Go to the ER if Your Child Has Asthma
One of the main goals of parents whose kids have asthma is avoiding trips to the emergency room (ER) for breathing problems. But it's also important to know when going to the ER is the right choice.
You'll be better prepared to make that decision if you discuss it with your doctor before your child has a severe flare-up. The doctor's instructions should be included in the asthma action plan, which also will list peak flow meter readings or specific symptoms that are your cue to go to the ER. If old enough, your child also should know what these signs are.
Know the Early Signs of a Flare-Up
Everyone's asthma is different. Some kids cough only at night, while others have flare-ups whenever they get a cold or exercise outside.
As you manage your child's asthma, pay attention to what happens before a flare-up so that you know the early warning signs. These signs might not mean that a flare-up definitely will happen, but they can help you to plan ahead.
A peak flow meter is an essential tool in helping to predict a flare-up. Your doctor will give you specific number ranges to watch for.
Other early warning signs of a flare-up can include:
- coughing that's not due to a cold or a persistent cough
- tightness in the chest
- throat clearing
- rapid or irregular breathing
- shortness of breath with activities
- inability to stand or sit still
- unusual fatigue
- restless sleep
Communicate with your doctor. Be sure to call the doctor at the earliest sign of a flare-up or if you have any other concerns. Being prepared means you might prevent your child's symptoms from worsening and thus can make a trip to the doctor's office instead of to the ER.
When to Seek Help
Sometimes your child must receive medical care very quickly. If any of the follow symptoms occur see your doctor immediately, go to the ER, or call an ambulance:
- if your child is having constant wheezing
- if your child uses rescue medications repeatedly for severe flare-up symptoms that don't go away after 5 or 10 minutes or return again quickly
- if there are changes in your child's color, like bluish or gray lips and fingernails
- if your child is having trouble talking
- if the areas below the ribs, between the ribs, and in the neck visibly pull in during inhalation (called retractions)
- if your child's peak flow reading falls below 50% (which is in the red zone of the peak flow) and doesn't improve with medication
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation. All rights reserved.
Add your own comment
Today on Education.com
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- The Five Warning Signs of Asperger's Syndrome
- What Makes a School Effective?
- Child Development Theories
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Test Problems: Seven Reasons Why Standardized Tests Are Not Working
- Bullying in Schools
- A Teacher's Guide to Differentiating Instruction
- Should Your Child Be Held Back a Grade? Know Your Rights