Asthma is a common condition affecting over 1.1 million children in the UK.  Learning First Aid skills will enable you to support a child suffering an attack. As a first aider, your priorities are to preserve life, alleviate suffering, prevent the condition from worsening and promote recovery. In our second article in the series, we look in more detail as to how you can support a child with Asthma.


Boy with asthma seated taking ventolin supported by lady

Asthma can develop in children but may subside in teenage years. Asthma affects the air passages which carry air in and out of the lungs. A child having an acute asthma attack will have the muscles of the air passages go into spasm making it hard for air to pass. This can be life-threatening when it is not managed. A child may have triggers that irritate the air passage causing asthma, which can include exercise, dust, pollens, animal fur, breathing in cold air, air pollution and picking up an infection, for example, a cold.


Children will display different symptoms but can get worse at night or during exercise. There may be:

  • Difficult in breathing
  • Wheezing or whistling noise on breathing out
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty speaking, due to of lack of breath
  • Grey-blue tinge to lips, and ear lobes
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Exhaustion
  • Collapse

Action for child

Treatment aims to get a child’s breathing under control and maintain it:

  1. Remain calm and reassure the child.
  2. Get them or support them to take the reliever inhaler.

    The child may have been provided with a spacer to help them take the medication. The spacer allows the medication to mix in the air before entering the child’s mouth, ensuring it effectively gets into the lungs.

  3. Sit the child down, in an upright position, that is comfortable for the child. Do not let them lie down.
  4. A mild attack should relieve in a few minutes. If it is not improving, encourage them to take another dose.
  5. Monitor them throughout and if the signs are getting worse, call the ambulance service.

If the child is not diagnosed with asthma but is having breathing difficulties, call for an ambulance.


If you would like to learn more, attend one of our first aid courses covering children and infants, for example, Level 3 Paediatric First Aid.

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