Asthma Education
Responding to an Asthma Emergency

 Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs that makes it difficult to breathe. When a child with asthma is exposed to‘trigger’, the airways become narrow/constricted and often swollen or inflamed. During an asthma episode (or attack) three main things can happen:  Think “SET.” 

  • S-swelling; the airways become swollen which narrow the airway and make it difficult for air to pass through.
  • E-Exra Mucous; extra mucous that clogs the airway
  • T-Tightening of the airway that further narrows the airway making it even more difficult for air to pass.  Children with asthma may take controller medicines every day to prevent asthma symptoms.  During an asthma episode, children need to take their rescue or quick relief medication as soon as possible. Rescue or quick relief inhalers open the airways.  All students with asthma should have their rescue inhaler at school. 

Knowing the signs and symptoms of asthma to help recognize and respond faster to an asthma emergency.

Early asthma signs:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest or throat
  • Stomach pain

Late asthma signs:

  • Breathlessness
  • Blue or gray skin, lips and fingertips
  • Difficulty talking or walking
  • Restlessness, agitation

Steps You Should Take In An Asthma Emergency:

  1. Stop the activity and help the child to a sitting position.
  2. Stay calm. Reassure the student you are there to help.
  3. Help the child take his/her medication, if available.
  4. If the child is at school, accompany child to the health office or call the school nurse, first responder. NEVER SEND THE CHILD TO THE OFFICE ALONE!
  5. Notify the child’s parent or guardian.

Call "911" if the student has any of the following:

  •  No improvement after taking medication
  • The child does not have medication at school
  • Trouble walking or talking
  • Struggles to breathe
  • Chest, neck muscles pull in when breathing
  • Flared nostrils
  • Lips, skin are blue or grey
  • Confused, agitated or loses consciousness