Asthma - Assessing the severity of your child's asthma attack

Disclaimer: This fact sheet is for education purposes only. Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for your child.

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When an asthma attack occurs, it is important to be able to assess the severity. Below is a checklist of asthma symptoms for mild, moderate, and severe attacks.

MildModerateSevere
Mild difficulty in breathingObvious difficulty in breathing, using stomach muscles to breathe, child may complain of a "sore tummy".
Caving in and around rib cage
Great difficulty in breathing with short, quick breaths
"Sucking In" at the throat and chest
Very distressed and anxious
Pale and sweaty
May have blue lips
Soft wheezeLoud wheezeOften no wheeze
Dry coughPersistent coughPersistent cough
No difficulty speaking in sentencesSpeaks in short sentences onlySpeaks no more than a few words in one breath

Responding to Asthma Symptoms - Asthma First Aid

Follow your child’s Asthma Action Plan if any of the above symptoms occur. If you do not have an asthma action plan for your child, follow the Standard Asthma First Aid Plan 2 listed below.

If you are concerned, have any doubts, or your child is experiencing SEVERE symptoms seek medical attention immediately: DIAL 000

The Standard Asthma First Aid Plan

  1. Sit the child upright and reassure. Do not leave the child alone.
  2. Give 4 separate puffs of a blue reliever puffer, Asmol, Ventolin, Airomir or Epaq, one puff at a time through a spacer, with 4 breaths in between each puff. Use the blue puffer on its own if a spacer is not available.
  3. Wait four minutes
  4. If there is little or no improvement, repeat steps 2 and 3.
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Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick
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Hunter New England Kids Health
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