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Your Child's Asthma: Flare-ups

What happens during a flare-up?

Children with asthma have severe episodes or flare-ups when the air passages in their lungs become narrower and breathing becomes more difficult. Sensitive airways react to certain things, called triggers. Triggers can cause:

  • The lining of the airways (bronchial tubes) to become more inflamed and swollen

  • Tightening of the muscles that surround the airways

  • Increased mucus production

  • Decreased air movement through the lungs

Normal airway
Normal Airway

Airway with asthma
Asthma

Airway with asthma flare-up
Flare Up

Your child may have the following symptoms of a flare-up:

  • It may become harder to breathe.

  • Chest tightness.

  • Coughing.

  • Wheezing or whistling when breathing out. He or she may not have wheezing with very severe flare-ups.

  • Symptoms that wake your child or keep them from sleeping.

  • Trouble walking or talking.

Make sure you know what to do if your child's symptoms worsen. If your child does not get treatment immediately during a flare-up, he or she could stop breathing, or even die.

Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically-affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 6/30/2014
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.