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When to go to the ER for asthma

Asthma is one of the most common pediatric health concerns in the country. Read about common childhood asthma symptoms and when to visit an ER for your child's asthma attacks.

Asthma is the number-one reason children go to the ER

According to the CDC, about eight percent of children in the United States have been diagnosed with a form of childhood asthma, making it one of the most common pediatric health concerns in the country. Childhood asthma is also the number-one cause of emergency room visits and hospitalizations among pediatric emergencies.

If your child has been diagnosed with asthma, you already know certain triggers can cause horrible coughing fits and other disturbing symptoms. But do you know when a home treatment is enough or if a trip to the nearest ER is warranted?


Does my child have asthma?

Before answering that question, you may be concerned your child has asthma but hasn’t received a formal diagnosis from a pediatrician.


Common childhood asthma symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Whistling or wheezing while exhaling
  • Constant intermittent coughing
  • Chest congestion
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Short, shallow breaths

If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, they should be examined by their pediatrician for a diagnosis. If they are diagnosed with asthma, early treatment will help prevent asthma attacks and unnecessary emergency room visits.

Childhood asthma can't be cured, but with the careful management and the emergency plan, you can prevent damage to their growing lungs and unnecessary visits to the pediatric ER.


When to seek an ER for asthma attacks

Asthma attacks are usually caused by external triggers like smoke, dust or other agitating particles in the air. Others causes of asthma attacks include viral or bacterial infections that affect the lungs. Whatever the cause, asthma attacks are serious conditions that need to be evaluated by a medical professional.

Seek emergency care at the closest pediatric ER if your child exhibits any of these symptoms:

  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Panic or extreme anxiety
  • Cold sweat
  • Coughing that won’t stop
  • Loss of color in the face
  • Blue lips or finger nails
  • Symptoms worsen even after using prescribed medication

If you believe your child is having an asthma attack, get to the emergency room or call 911.