In Australia, one in 10 children have asthma. This is one of the highest of rates of childhood asthma in the world.
More than just a wheeze, asthma is a chronic condition that causes the breathing tubes (airways) to become inflamed and constricted. This causes difficulty breathing. It is also very important to understand that asthma can range from mild to severe, and can be a life-threatening condition. This is why it is so important to be confident in administering the first aid for asthma, and you need to always make sure your child’s asthma action plan is up to date and completed by your child’s doctor.
The symptoms of asthma in children vary from child to child, so make sure you know the symptoms your child has. The National Asthma Council Australia say that some of the common symptoms include:
- wheezing – a continuous, high-pitched sound coming from the chest while breathing
- shortness of breath – a feeling of not being able to get enough air
- a feeling of tightness in the chest
- coughing – alongside other symptoms
A child doesn’t need to have all of these symptoms to be diagnosed with asthma (diagnosis takes time, often after multiple wheezy episodes responsive to Ventolin), and importantly, children having an asthma flare-up will not always have a wheeze, especially if they are very sick.
In an asthma emergency, always follow the National Asthma Council Australia Kids for First Aid for Asthma guide:
1. Sit the child upright
Stay calm, stay with the child and reassure them.
2. Give 4 separate puffs of a reliever puffer (blue or grey puffer)
- Use a space
- Give one puff at a time (shake the puffer before each puff), with 4-6 breaths AFTER each puff
3. Wait 4 minutes
If after 4 minutes the child still cannot breathe normally, give 4 more puffs (with 4-6 breaths after each puff).
5. If the child still cannot breathe normally Call 000 ambulance immediately
Keep giving 4 separate puffs of reliever, with 4-6 breaths after each puff, every 4 minutes until ambulance arrives
You can download the National Asthma Council Australia Kids for First Aid for Asthma chart here.
If your child is diagnosed with asthma, the most important thing you can do is be confident and prepared to manage an asthma emergency. Know the first aid, ensure their action plan is up to date and always use a spacer device when giving their puffer.