Asthma in children

Will my child need to go to hospital with asthma?

Most people can manage asthma at home and don’t need to go to hospital.

But sometimes the symptoms can flare up in response to triggers, even when you follow your child’s asthma plan – this is called an asthma attack and your child may need to go to hospital.

How to spot an asthma attack

  • your child’s symptoms are getting worse and worse
  • their usual reliever inhaler isn’t helping
  • they’re breathing very quickly and seem short of breath. If your child is older, you may notice that they can’t complete a sentence in one breath. If you have a baby, you may find that he or she is having difficulty breastfeeding or taking their bottle
  • they’re wheezing
  • they’re complaining of a tummy ache
  • their lips and tongue have a blue tinge

If you notice any of these signs:

  • Get them to sit up straight.
  • Give them their reliever inhaler. They normally only take 2 puffs, but if you think they’re having an attack, it’s OK to give them up to 10 puffs. You should space these out – 1 puff at a time every 30-60 seconds
  • If their symptoms don’t improve, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
  • If the ambulance is taking longer than 15 minutes to arrive, you can give them their reliever inhaler again in the same way as before.

It’s very important for you get help quickly if your child is having an asthma attack. Don’t hesitate to call 999. If you have to go to A&E, take their written asthma action plan with you.

Last medically reviewed: September 2016. Due for review: September 2019

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.