CHOC Children's
RESPIRATORY DISORDERS :: All About Asthma

During An Asthma Attack

What happens during an asthma attack?

Children with asthma have acute episodes when the air passages in their lungs get narrower, and breathing becomes more difficult. These problems are caused by an over-sensitivity of the lungs and airways.

  • The lungs and airways overreact to certain triggers causing:
    • the lining of the airways to become inflamed and swollen
    • tightening of the muscles that surround the airways
    • an increased production of mucus
  • Breathing becomes harder and may hurt.
  • There may be coughing.
  • There may be a wheezing or whistling sound, which is typical of asthma. Wheezing occurs because the rush of air moving through the narrowed airways.

If a child does not receive treatment immediately during an asthma attack, respiratory failure may occur.

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It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.

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