During an asthma flare-up (or attack), the airways in the lungs become irritated and swollen, making breathing harder. Some flare-ups are mild, but others can be life-threatening. So it's important to know how to spot them and deal with them right away. Signs & Symptoms Of an asthma flare-up include: wheezing coughing chest tightness shortness of breath Of a severe asthma flare-up include: trouble breathing even when sitting still difficulty speaking without pausing feeling tired or drowsy blueness around the lips the areas below the ribs, between the ribs, and in the neck sink in with each breath What to Do Doctors usually give patients a detailed asthma action plan that includes how to prevent and handle flare-ups. If your child has an asthma flare-up, follow the plan's treatment guidelines. Because each child's asthma is different, each action plan will be too. Get Emergency Medical Care or Call 911 if Your Child: begins to show signs of a severe flare-up has a flare-up that enters the danger zone (red zone) of the asthma action plan Think Prevention! To help prevent flare-ups: Help your child to avoid the triggers that can cause flare-ups. Make sure your child takes the long-term control medicine as directed by the doctor — even when feeling well. Make sure your child always has the prescribed medicines and takes them to school and on trips. Be sure your child gets a flu shot every year. Work with the doctor to follow your child's asthma action plan. Back to Articles Related Articles Asthma Center Asthma keeps more kids home from school than any other chronic illness. Learn how to help your child manage the condition, stay healthy, and stay in school. Read More Asthma Asthma makes it hard to breathe. But with treatment, the condition can be managed so that kids can still do the things they love. Learn all about asthma. Read More Asthma Flare-Ups Find out how to deal with — and help prevent — asthma flare-ups ("attacks"), which is when asthma symptoms get worse. Read More Asthma Triggers Triggers — things in the air, weather conditions, or activities — can cause asthma flare-ups. By knowing and avoiding triggers, you'll help lessen your child's asthma symptoms. Read More When to Go to the ER if Your Child Has Asthma If your child has asthma, find out when you need to go to the ER. Read More Asthma Center Visit our Asthma Center for information and advice on managing and living with asthma. Read More Asthma Center Asthma means breathing problems. Find out what's going on in the lungs and how to stay healthy, if you have it. Read More Handling an Asthma Flare-Up How can you prepare for an asthma flare-up? Find out in this article for kids. Read More How Do Asthma Medicines Work? Kids who have asthma need to take medicine. But what kind of medicine do they take and what does it do? Let's find out. Read More Dealing With an Asthma Flare-Up Asthma flare-ups, or attacks, can be handled, but it's even better if you can prevent them from happening. Find out how to deal with flare-ups. Read More Asthma Asthma makes it hard to breathe. Find out more in this article for kids. Read More Dealing With Asthma Triggers If you have asthma, certain things may cause you to cough and have trouble breathing. Find out more about asthma triggers in this article for kids. Read More Dealing With Asthma Triggers Find out what can make your asthma worse, and what to do about it. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.