Asthma Attack | When to Go to the E.R.

We're going to talk about what happens when

you come to the emergency department with an asthma exacerbation, and by

exacerbation I mean a flare-up or worsening of your typical asthma symptoms.

First, prior to ever coming, you should have a conversation with your child's doctor about their asthma

and when they should come to the emergency department. Hopefully, if your child has a

diagnosis of asthma, they should have what's called an asthma action plan

which is a document given to you by your regular doctor or your pulmonologist

that describes what to do when they're having different asthma symptoms.

Somewhere on that plan should be what happens if they have an exacerbation and

need to come to the emergency department.

If you get to a point where you feel like your child needs emergency care for

their asthma definitely come right in because asthma can get pretty bad pretty

quickly. You don't want to wait if they're having symptoms. Once you get to

the emergency department with asthma, what typically happens? They'll be put in

a room like any other emergency patient. Their vital signs will be taken and they

may be asked to do something specific to asthma such as pulmonary function

testing where they blow into a tube and different things are measured. They'll

most likely be given a breathing treatment right away unless they just

had one at home. They'll probably be given a steroid medicine, Prednisone or

Orapred, unless they just had that at home. Depending on how severe their

asthma exacerbation is, they'll likely be given more breathing treatments and they

may even need some additional medications either by mouth or through

an IV. If their asthma exacerbation is not getting better pretty quickly in the

emergency department, then they will have to stay in the hospital overnight or

perhaps even longer, so if you're coming to the emergency department with asthma,

consider that you may have to stay overnight in the hospital and be

prepared for that. If you ever have any questions about whether or not to come

to the emergency department, you can always call your doctor's helpline and

speak to registered nurses about that, but if you're ever in doubt just come to

the emergency department where we see a lot of asthma and are always very

prepared to take care of that.