Coughing is the most common symptom of asthma. Children with asthma often start coughing after running, laughing or crying. They tend to cough more at night and have colds, bronchitis and other respiratory infections more frequently than do children without asthma. Other symptoms include wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.
Children may have difficulty talking or become anxious. Very young children may complain of stomach aches, headaches or scratchy throats when their asthma is worsening. Other signs and symptoms include reduced energy, running out of breath, inability to talk, neck muscles tightening with each breath, chest sucking in with each breath, and nail beds or lips turning grayish or blue.
If your child is having an asthma attack:
■ Stay calm.
■ Follow your child’s emergency asthma action plan. (You’ll want to talk with your child’s doctor ahead of time about what rescue medication to have on hand and exactly what to do when an asthma attack occurs.)
■ Help your child use his rescue inhaler properly.
■ Encourage your child to breathe slowly and deeply.
■ Call your child’s doctor if symptoms don’t improve.
■ Call 911 if your child is getting worse or having difficulty breathing.
— Sources: Virginia Department of Health; Virginia Asthma Coalition