Asthma - child - discharge

Your child has asthma, which causes the airways of the lungs to swell and narrow. In the hospital, the doctors and nurses helped your child breathe better.

What to Expect When You Get Home

Most children will still have asthma symptoms after they leave the hospital.

  • Your child’s wheezing and coughing may last for up to 5 days.
  • Your child’s sleeping and eating may take up to a week to return to normal.
  • You may need to take time off work to care for your child.

Take Charge of Your Child’s Asthma at Home

Make sure you know the asthma symptoms to watch out for in your child. See also: Signs of an asthma attack

You should know how to take your child’s peak flow reading and what it means. See also: How to use your peak flow meter

  • Know your child’s personal best number.
  • Know your child’s peak flow reading that tells you their asthma is getting worse.
  • Know your child’s peak flow reading that shows you need to call their doctor.

Keep the phone number of your child's doctor or nurse with you.

Triggers may make asthma symptoms worse. Know which triggers make your child’s asthma worse and what to do when this happens.

  • Pets
  • Smells from chemicals and cleaners
  • Grass and weeds
  • Smoke
  • Dust
  • Cockroaches
  • Rooms that are moldy or damp

See also: Stay away from asthma triggers

Know how to prevent or treat asthma that comes on when your child is active. These things might trigger your child’s asthma:

  • Cold or dry air
  • Smoky or polluted air
  • Grass that has just been mowed
  • Starting and stopping an activity too fast. Try to make sure your child warms up before being very active and cools down after.

Understand your child’s asthma medicines and how they should be taken. These include:

  • Control medicines that your child takes every day
  • Quick-relief asthma drugs when your child has symptoms

Keep Smoking away from Your Child

No one should smoke in your house. This includes you, your visitors, your child’s babysitters, and anyone else who comes to your house.

Smokers should smoke outside and wear a coat. The coat will keep smoke particles from sticking to their clothes. They should leave the coat outside, or away from the child.

Ask people who work at your child’s day care, preschool, school, and anyone else who takes care of your child, if they smoke. If they do, make sure they smoke away from your child.

School and Asthma

Children with asthma need a lot of support at school. They may need help from school staff to keep their asthma under control and to be able to do school activities.

There should be an asthma action plan at school. The following people should have a copy of the plan:

  • Your child's teacher
  • The school nurse
  • The school office
  • Gym teachers and coaches

Your child should be able to take asthma medicines at school when needed.

School staff should know what things make your child’s asthma worse. These are called "triggers." Your child should be able to go to another location to get away from asthma triggers, if needed.

See also: Asthma and school

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse if:

  • Your child is a having a hard time breathing:
  • Your child’s chest muscles are pulling in with each breath.
  • Your child is breathing faster than 50 to 60 breaths per minute (when not crying).
  • Your child is making a grunting noise.
  • Your child is sitting with shoulders hunched over.
  • Your child’s skin, nails, gums, or lips are a bluish or grayish color.
  • The area around your child’s eyes is a bluish or grayish color.Your child is very, very tired.
  • Your child is not moving around very much.
  • Your child has a limp or floppy body.
  • Your child’s nostrils are flaring out when they are breathing.

Also call the doctor if your child:

  • Loses their appetite
  • Is irritable
  • Has trouble sleeping


Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. Rockville, MD. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2007. NIH publications 08-4051.

Lemanske RF Jr, Mauger DT, Sorkness CA, Jackson DJ, Boehmer SJ, Martinez FD, et al. Step-up therapy for children with uncontrolled asthma receiving inhaled corticosteroids. N Engl J Med. 2010 Mar 18;362(11):975-85.

Update Date: 4/26/2012

Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


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