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What is Asthma?

Asthma is the most common chronic childhood illness and a leading cause of school absences. In a classroom of 30 children, two are likely to have asthma. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the airways of the lungs.

The main symptoms of asthma are:

  • Cough
  • Wheeze
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness

The most common symptom of asthma is cough. However, it is important to know that everyone with asthma is different.

Asthma triggers
Certain things bother people with asthma that do not bother others. These things are triggers because they may start an asthma attack. Asthma triggers vary for each person. Some examples are:

  • Pollens/mold
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Chalk dust
  • Air pollution
  • Animals
  • Respiratory infections
  • Cockroach allergen
  • Stuffed animals
  • Dust/dust mites
  • Exercise

Warning signs
Warning signs are important to recognize so treatment can begin early. Some examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Feeling tired, sad, angry or moody
  • Cries easily
  • Stuffy nose, watery eyes, sneezing
  • Headache
  • Stomach ache
  • Drop in peak flow reading
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Pale or red faced
  • Cough with exercise
  • Coughing or mild wheezing

What to do during an asthma attack

  • Remain calm
  • Remove child from the asthma trigger
  • Administer asthma medicines as directed by doctor
  • Have child sit in a comfortable position
  • Have child breathe in through nose and out through mouth
  • Call parent and/or physician if symptoms persist

Do NOT… Breathe into a paper bag. Drink large amounts of water. Breathe in cold air.

How it feels to have asthma
1. Place straw in mouth.
2. Breathe through the straw only.
3. Now pinch the straw.

What kids say…
My asthma makes me feel:
“Like an elephant is sitting on my chest.”
“Like I am dying.”
“I feel like a fish without water.”
“My heart hurts.”

Asthma Treatment and Education