If you have asthma, you probably know about flare-ups. That's when your asthma symptoms get worse. During a flare-up, you might have:
Flare-ups happen because the airways in your lungs have become more irritated and swollen (puffy) than usual. The lungs may make sticky mucus, which clogs the airways. And the muscles around the airways tighten up, making the airways really narrow. These troubles in the lungs make it tough to pull air in and push air out.
You can learn to handle asthma flare-ups. Here are three ways to be prepared:
After you've had a few flare-ups, you may notice that you feel a certain way when a flare-up is coming on. You might have a tight chest, an itchy throat, or a tired feeling. Or do you have a cough, even though you don't have a cold? If you have a peak flow meter, this might be a good time to use it.
Get help if you feel like a flare-up is about to happen. Let people around you know what's going on, and then remember your asthma action plan. That's the written plan created with your doctor that tells you which medicine to take and what to do next. Don't ignore the flare-up or hope it will go away on its own. It won't and you might end up in the emergency room.
Asthma flare-ups can be handled, but it's even better if you can prevent them from happening. One way to do that is to avoid triggers. We're not talking about triggers on guns! Many kids who have asthma also have allergies, so common triggers include things that cause allergies. Some of these are pets, dust mites (little bugs that live in dust), mold, or cockroaches.
Other triggers do not cause allergies, but they simply irritate the airways. These include tobacco smoke, cold air, exercise, and infections, such as colds. If you try to avoid your triggers, you might be able to prevent some asthma flare-ups.
If your doctor prescribed long-term control medicine for you, taking it as directed is another important way to prevent flare-ups. Long-term control medicine needs to be taken regularly, even on days when you feel fine.
Some flare-ups are serious, but others are mild. Flare-ups can happen suddenly, but can also build up over time, especially in kids who aren't taking the asthma medicine they need. You won't be able to stop all flare-ups, so do your best to be prepared for one.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014
|American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology offers up-to-date information and a find-an-allergist search tool.|
|AAAAI Just for Kids This Just for Kids page from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology offers lots of fun activities to help you learn about managing your allergies and asthma.|
|Asthma Action Plan When things are confusing, a plan really helps. Check out this asthma action plan, which you can print out and use to manage breathing trouble.|
|What's an Asthma Flare-Up? A kid who has asthma might have an asthma attack (or flare-up). Find out more in this article for kids.|
|Asthma Center Asthma means breathing problems. Find out what's going on in the lungs and how to stay healthy, if you have it.|
|Your House: How to Make It Asthma-Safe If you have asthma, you want to breathe easy at home. Find out how in this article for kids.|
|Dealing With Asthma Triggers Don't pull that asthma trigger! If you have asthma, certain things may cause you to cough and have trouble breathing. Find out more about asthma triggers in this article for kids.|
|Asthma Asthma can cause a person's airways to get swollen and irritated, making it hard to breathe. Find out more in this article for kids.|
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