Spotting Asthma Signals

Become aware of asthma's symptoms.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a long-term inflammatory lung disease. The air passages in a child’s lungs become bothered by certain things called “triggers.” During an asthma attack, much less air gets into the child’s lungs and there’s difficulty breathing, especially breathing out.

What symptoms should I look for?

Young children may have trouble telling you their symptoms. They may say things like “My chest hurts” or “I can’t breathe so well.” A child’s mood or behavior may also change suddenly. Watch and listen closely so you can learn the child’s way of showing her symptoms.

Doctors sometimes recommend watching for “loud” or “quiet” symptoms of an asthma attack.

Loud symptoms include:

  • coughing;
  • shakiness;
  • shortness of breath;
  • tightness in the chest;
  • wheezing (a whistling sound when breathing).

Quiet symptoms include:

  • anxiety and nervousness;
  • restlessness during sleep;
  • sudden irritability or quietness;
  • unusual tiredness; and
  • unusual sweating or paleness.