Asthma is a breathing disorder that causes the small airways in your child's lungs to become inflamed or swollen and make it hard for your child to breathe.

During an asthma attack, your child may cough, wheeze and have a hard time breathing. Other symptoms of asthma include: history of long-term (chronic) cough, frequent coughing, shortness of breath during exercise or a cough while sleeping.

Call your health care provider if your child has asthma symptoms.

Asthma management plan

Your health care provider can help you create an asthma management plan to guide you in treating your child's asthma.

When to call your health care provider

Call your health care provider to schedule an appointment if your child:

  • had an emergency department visit or hospital stay because of asthma
  • wakes up at night more than two times a month because of asthma
  • uses rescue medicine (such as albuterol) more than two days a week to relieve asthma symptoms

Common asthma triggers

There are some "triggers" which can make asthma worse, such as:

  • stress and strong emotions
  • tobacco smoke:
    • secondhand smoke (smoke from burning tip of tobacco product and exhaled smoke)
    • thirdhand smoke (residue on surfaces of things)
  • car exhaust and other air pollutants
  • smoke from fireplaces, fire pits and bonfires
  • cold air
  • chemical sprays
  • perfumes, scented deodorants and other strong odors
  • vacuum cleaning
  • respiratory infections, such as cold or influenza (flu)
  • sulfites in food and other food allergies
  • allergy triggers such as animal dander,dust mites, mold, pollen and cockroaches
  • weather changes
  • exercise, sports, work or play

Your child may have different triggers.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5, sixth edition, ped-ah-91554
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 11/16/2022