Tests & Procedures Index



During an Asthma Attack

What happens during an asthma attack?

Children with asthma have acute episodes when the air passages in their lungs become narrower, and breathing becomes more difficult. These problems are caused by an oversensitivity of the lungs and airways:

  • The lungs and airways overreact to certain triggers causing:
    • The lining of the airways to become inflamed and swollen
    • Tightening of the muscles that surround the airways.
    • An increased production of mucus
  • Breathing becomes harder and may hurt.
  • There may be coughing.
  • There may be a wheezing or whistling sound, which is typical of asthma. Wheezing occurs because of the rush of air that moves through the narrowed airways.

If a child does not receive treatment immediately during an asthma attack, respiratory failure may occur.

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Online Resources of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology

Last reviewed: 8/29/2012