I don’t know about you, but when my child has an asthma attack, it is one of the scariest moments of my life. Seconds can feel like minutes, and minutes can feel like hours. Watching my daughter struggle to breathe is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to experience. She has her rescue inhaler, but that doesn’t always help right away. I have done a lot of research to see how I can help relieve her symptoms as soon as possible, and have found that there are some things I can do. However, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of when it’s time to go to the hospital so that you do not delay your child’s treatment.
When To Go To The Hospital
There are several different things to look for when deciding whether or not to take your child to the hospital. Before I go any further though, I want to make it clear that when it doubt, take your child to the hospital. It is much better to be safe rather than sorry. The worst that can happen if you take your child in is a false alarm, which is obviously better than the other alternative of not taking your child in when they truly needed it. When your child first starts exhibiting symptoms, call your doctor. Since most asthma attacks seem to happen at night, you may have to call your doctor’s after hours number. They should be able to get back to you within thirty minutes. If within that thirty minute period you notice any of the following symptoms, then take your child to the nearest emergency department right away:
- Constant wheezing
- Rescue inhaler isn’t working quickly or producing lasting results
- Blue lips or fingernails or changes in your child’s coloring
- Child is unable to talk or can’t speak without great difficulty
- Retracting (the skin around the ribs or neck pull in noticeably with each breath)
- Child’s peak flow is at or under 50%
If any of these symptoms are happening to your child, take them in right away. If you can’t get them to a hospital quickly, then call an ambulance. Sometimes, your child is having trouble breathing, but doesn’t need emergency treatment. While you are waiting for the doctor to call you back, there are several things you can do to alleviate your child’s symptoms.
The most important thing to do in this situation is stay calm. Even though it’s terrifying to watch your kid struggle to breathe, panicking will only make the situation worse for a number of reasons. First of all, when you aren’t calm, you aren’t as likely to think clearly and make the right decisions. Secondly, when you panic, your child starts to panic, and it’s very important for them to stay calm. When your child begins to panic, it makes the asthma attack even worse. Do everything you can to keep yourself and your child calm. Since it’s a natural reaction to panic when you are unable to breathe, make sure you reassure your kid and tell them over and over again that they are going to be alright.
Something that really seems to help open up the airways is steam. Taking your child into the bathroom, shutting the door and running the hot water for 10 to 15 minutes may help your child significantly. Make sure you stay in the room with your child. You don’t want them to burn themselves by trying to touch the water while you aren’t in the room. Not only that, but you also want to be there to make sure your child stays calm and does not panic. Try bringing some books into the room for you to read, or a game that your child enjoys to help the time go by more quickly.
Drink Some Water
Drinking some water can help alleviate asthma symptoms, so try to get the child to drink some. The more they can drink the better. However, make sure the water is a lukewarm temperature, because cold water can make the attack worse. If the child does not want to drink any water, do not force them. It is more important for them to stay calm than it is to drink water, and if they are refusing to drink water, it may be because their body is telling them that they cannot do so safely right now.
Maintain Your Body Temperature
Both hot and cold weather is bad for an asthma attack. If you are outside on a hot day and your child starts to experience an asthma attack, then move indoors and cool him or her down. If it is cold outside and your child has an asthma attack, then make sure they stay as warm as possible.
Try to have your child avoid talking if possible. If your child is like mine, then getting them to stop talking can seem impossible, but it’s really for the best. Something I do to keep my child quiet is play games that distract her, or turn on one of her favorite movies. If your child is into competitions, you may want to play the “quiet game”, where you see who can stay quiet the longest. However, it is important to realize that if your child’s asthma attack is severe enough, they won’t be up for playing any games.
Moving around a lot during an asthma attack will likely only make it worse. Even walking from one place to another can be a struggle when your body is fighting to breathe. Have your son or daughter sit down on the couch, and do something to entertain them so they aren’t tempted to get up. If they need something, get it for them so they don’t have to stand up.
These are just a few tips that I have found when researching what best to do for my daughter. An asthma attack can be frightening for everyone involved, but if you are prepared, then it is more likely that you will be able to notice the signs of an asthma attack and take action right away to prevent things from becoming worse. Like I mentioned before, please take your child to the emergency room if you notice any of the symptoms listed above or if your instinct is telling you there is something seriously wrong.