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.