Asthma is the most common long-term, chronic childhood disease. Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with proper care. If asthma is properly treated, people with asthma may enjoy long periods without signs of asthma or asthma attacks.

Facts About Asthma

  • An estimated 7.1 million children in the United States or 1 in 10 children have asthma
  • More boys than girls develop asthma
  • Asthma and allergies tend to run in families
  • Asthma is the most common chronic condition that causes absences from school

What is an Asthma Attack?

Asthma is a chronic or ongoing lung and airway disease that is caused by narrowing or obstruction of the airways due to inflammation. When an asthma attack happens, air can get in but has trouble getting out of the lungs. This will make the child cough and wheeze, their chest may feel tight and it may be hard for them to breathe. Triggers, such as smoke or dust, can lead to an asthma attack because children with asthma have overly sensitive airways.

Three things happen inside a child’s lungs during an asthma attack:

  • Swelling of the airway lining (also called inflammation)
  • Tightening of the airways occurs with constriction or squeezing of the muscles in the breathing tubes
  • Clogging or blocking of the airways is caused by mucus or phlegm


Asthma signs change over time and every person with asthma has good and bad days. Warning signs and symptoms are not the same for everyone, and children may have different signs and symptoms at different times.

By knowing the child’s warning signs and acting on them, an asthma attack can be avoided. 

  • Chronic cough, especially at night
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest starts to get tight or hurts
  • Breathing faster than normal
  • Getting out of breath easily
  • Tired
  • Itchy, watery, glassy eyes
  • Itchy, scratchy, or sore throat
  • Rubbing or scratching chin or throat
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy Head
  • Headache
  • Restless
  • Runny nose
  • Change in face color (allergic reaction)
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Drop in peak flow reading from normal
  • Likes back rubbed or scratched

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