What to Do During an Attack or Flare Up

What happens during an “attack” or “flare up”?

During an asthma attack or a flare up the muscles around the airways tighten up also called as bronchospasm. In addition the airway lining also gets swollen up or inflammed and produce more mucus. These three factors together- bronchospasm, inflammation, and mucus production tend to block the airway. These lead to increase in symptoms.

How do you recognize a “flare up”?

During an asthma flare up there would be worsening of asthma symptoms such as increased coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath and difficulty performing normal daily activities.
Other symptoms of an asthma attack that indicate a very severe or a life threatening attack include: very rapid breathing, difficulty in speaking, anxiety, pallor, sweating, blue lips or fingernails. In such cases the child should be taken to the hospital emergency immediately.

What can induce a “flare up”?

Triggers and allergens can induce a flare up. Read more about triggers and allergens in the section on “Tips on how to control your asthma better”.

What should do in cases of an attack or a flare up?

In cases of mild symptoms, YELLOW or ORANGE Zone of your Asthma Action Plan: Give 2 puffs of the reliever inhaler with spacer. If the child feels better then this can be continued every 3-4 hours. If not feeling better take 2 puffs three times at 20 minutes interval (2 puffs X 20 min X 3 doses). If not better at the end of one hour then talk to your doctor and might need the first dose of oral steroid.

We strongly advice that in case of any mild to moderate symptoms you should get back to your doctor the same or maximum the next day.

In which situations I need to rush to a hospital?

In cases of severe symptoms (RED Zone of the Asthma Action Plan) this is a medical emergency. Take your child to the hospital emergency immediately. Give 4 puffs (one at a time). Can take upto 10 puffs. Can reach after 15 minutes in case there is a delay in reaching the hospital. Give the first dose of the steroid.