How avoid a back to school asthma attack

Asthma UK give their top tips on how to respond when a child has an asthma attack.

Asthma UK is warning parents of asthmatic children about the increased risk of asthma attacks when children go back to school in September.

According to Asthma UK, 1.1 million children (1 in 11) in the UK have asthma, an inflammatory condition of the airways of the lungs. Asthmatic children are particularly vulnerable when they go back to school as they may have fallen out of the routine of using their preventer inhaler. The medicine builds up over time, which helps to protect the airways.

Without regular preventer medicine, children with asthma are susceptible to having an attack triggered by cold or flu viruses.

Sonia Munde, Head of Services at Asthma UK said: ‘Going back to school should be an exciting time for children, but many end up in hospital fighting for life after an asthma attack. This is extremely distressing for a child and their parent. It could be avoided if parents know how to spot their child’s asthma is getting worse and know what to do if their child is having an asthma attack.

‘Parents should not feel afraid to book an urgent appointment with the GP or asthma nurse if their child is using their reliever inhaler (usually blue) three or more times a week, coughing or wheezing at night or feeling out of breath and struggling to keep up with their friends. They can find information and support at’

Andriy Popov / Alamy Stock Photo

Asthma UK are advising parents to familiarise themselves – and anyone who looks after their child – with what to do if their child is having an asthma attack.

Warning signs that a child’s asthma symptoms are getting worse…

  • Puffing on their reliever inhaler (usually blue) three or more times a week.
  • Coughing and/or wheezing at night or in the early mornings.
  • Breathlessness – if they’re pausing for breath when talking or struggling to keep up with friends, that’s a sign.
  • They might say their tummy or chest hurts.

If you notice your child’s asthma symptoms are getting worse…

  • Give two to four puffs of their reliever inhaler, through a spacer. Space the puffs out so there are 30-60 seconds between them. If their symptoms don’t get better or if their reliever inhaler isn’t lasting four hours, follow our asthma attack advice below.
  • Make a same-day appointment with your child’s GP.
  • If the surgery is closed, call 111 for advice.
  • If you have any questions, call our asthma nurses for advice on 0300 222 5800(Mon – Fri; 9am – 5pm). You can also visit our child asthma advice.

If a child’s symptoms are rapidly getting worse…

  • Call 999.
  • While you wait for the ambulance, help the child sit up and give them a puff of their reliever inhaler every 30-60 seconds. You can give them up to 10 puffs.
  • Repeat this step every 15 minutes while you are waiting.

For more information on how to protect your child when they’re back at school this September, visit Asthma UK’s website or call the Asthma UK Helpline on 0300 222 5800 to speak to an asthma nurse.

Parents can also speak to our asthma nurses by calling 0300 222 5800 or by messaging 07378 606 728 on WhatsApp.