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Baby and Child First Aid

Questions and answers about first aid for babies and children:asthma attack

Here are some questions people often ask. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please feel free to email us at firstaid@redcross.org.uk or use this form.

Q

What is asthma?

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Asthma is a medical condition that affects the airways – the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. When someone has an asthma attack, these tubes become narrowed, making it difficult to breathe in and out.

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Q

What sort of medication will they use?

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Answer

A baby or child who has asthma will normally have been prescribed an inhaler by their doctor. They may also have a spacer which can make using their inhaler more effective.

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Q

What is a spacer?

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A spacer is a hollow cylindrical container, which attaches to an inhaler and can help a baby or child having an asthma attack to take their medication more effectively. It is recommended that a spacer is used when a baby or child is having an asthma attack. If they don’t have a spacer then they can just use their inhaler.

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Q

How does a spacer work?

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An inhaler fits into one end of the spacer and there is a mouthpiece at the other end. When a person presses on the inhaler the medicine is released and collects in the container. The baby or child experiencing an asthma attack can then breathe the medicine in slowly.

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Q

I have given them their medication. Is there anything else I can do to help ease their attack?

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Help them to sit up and lean forward slightly as this may make it easier for them to breathe. Encourage them to breathe slowly and deeply. 

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Q

When should I call 999 if a baby or child is having an asthma attack?

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Call 999 if any of the following apply:

  • It is their first attack.
  • They stop breathing.
  • They finding it difficult to talk or make noise.
  • They are becoming exhausted.
  • Their medication doesn't work.
  • They don’t have any medication with them.
  • Their condition gets worse.

 

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Q

What do I do if the baby or child stops breathing?

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What should I do if they have an asthma attack and don’t have their medication?

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Call 999 immediately. The baby or child must be moved urgently to hospital by ambulance.

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