Abu-Hasan M, Tannous B, Weinberger M. Exercise-induced dyspnea in children and adolescents: If not asthma then what?. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol.. 2005; 94:(3)366-371

Albuali WH. The use of intravenous and inhaled magnesium sulphate in management of children with bronchial asthma. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med.. 2014; 27:(17)1809-1815

Asthma UK. Peak flow test. 2020a. (accessed 21 January 2021)

Asthma UK. How to use your inhaler. 2020b. (accessed 21 January 2021)

Asthma UK. Asthma facts and statistics. 2021a. (accessed 21 January 2021)

Asthma UK. Asthma triggers. 2021b. (accessed 21 January 2021)

British Thoracic Society. BTS/SIGN guideline for the management of asthma 2019. 2019. (accessed 21 January 2021)

Department of Health and Social Care. Guidance on the use of emergency salbutamol inhalers in schools. 2015. (accessed 1 February 2021)

KidsHealth. What's the difference between a nebulizer and an inhaler?. 2014. (accessed 3 February 2021)

Lissauer T, Claydon G. Illustrated Book of Paediatrics, 4th edition. Oxford: Elsevier; 2012

NHS England. Asthma: Causes. 2018. (accessed 21 January 2021)

NHS London. Better care across the system for children and young people with asthma. 2020. (accessed 27 January 2020)

National Institute of Health and Care Excellence. Asthma: Diagnosis, monitoring and chronic asthma management. 2020. (accessed 21 January 2021)

Normansell R, Kew KM, Mansour G. Different oral corticosteroid regimens for acute asthma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev.. 2016; 13:(5)

Papiris SA, Manali ED, Kolilekas L, Triantafillidou C, Tsangaris I. Acute severe asthma: New approaches to assessment and treatment. Drugs.. 2009; 69:(17)2363-2391

Pfleger A, Eber E. Assessment and causes of stridor. Paediatr Respir Rev.. 2016; 18:64-72

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. State of child health. 2020. (accessed 21 January 2021)

Schofield JPR, Burg D, Nicholas B Stratification of asthma phenotypes by airway proteomic signatures. J Allergy Clin Immunol.. 2019; 144:(1)70-82

Tang S, Xie Y, Yuan C, Sun X, Cui Y. Fractional exhaled nitric oxide for the diagnosis of childhood asthma: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol.. 2019; 56:(2)129-138

Van den Bruel A, Thompson M, Buntinx F, Mant D. Clinicians' gut feeling about serious infections in children: Observational study. BMJ.. 2012; 345

Zuriati Z, Zahlimar Surya M Effectiveness active cycle of breathing technique (acbt) with pursed lips breathing technique (plbt) to tripod position in increase oxygen saturation in patients with copd, west sumatera. Enferm Clin.. 2020; 30:164-167

Recognising and managing an acute asthma attack

02 February 2021
Volume 2 · Issue 1


Asthma is a potentially life-threatening condition, characterised by a reversible narrowing of the airways. It affects 1 in 10 children in the UK. During exacerbations, it is difficult for the child to breathe and get enough oxygen into their blood. There is a huge variance in the severity of an attack. Some can be managed in the community while others are potentially fatal and need urgent transfer to hospital. For that reason, criteria have been created to categorise attacks as mild, moderate, severe or life threatening. Initially, an asthma attack should be treated using inhaled salbutamol; however, if the patient does not respond or has severe or life-threatening asthma, they need urgent transfer to hospital.

Asthma attacks are potentially life threatening and characterised by a reversible narrowing of the airways, they affects 1.1 million children in the UK (Asthma UK, 2021a). Approximately 25 000 children are admitted to hospital as an emergency per year because of asthma attacks (NHS London, 2020). In 2018, 20 children under the age of 14 died from asthma, while 22 between the ages of 15–24 years old died (Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, 2020). Therefore, it is important to be able to recognise asthma attacks and initiate appropriate management.

‘Formal diagnosis of asthma is difficult and must reflect the chronic nature of the disease…There is no one test that confirms a diagnosis of asthma. GPs use a combination of clinical history and lung function testing…any child who presents as acutely unwell with wheeze should be treated as though they have asthma’

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting Journal of Child Health and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for children’s health professionals. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to our clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month