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Home > Wellness > Health Library > Asthma in Children: Knowing How Bad an Attack Is
It can be difficult to know whether your child is having a mild,
moderate, or severe
asthma attack. The following chart may help you. Talk
with a doctor if you are unable to tell how severe your child's
Peak expiratory flow
80% to 100% of personal best
50% to 79% of personal best
Less than 50% of personal best
Normal or slightly faster
Faster than normal
Rapid, and the child may appear preoccupied with breathing; may
want to sit upright to help breathing
Mild or no shortness of breath; can speak in full
Short of breath; can speak in short phrases or
parts of sentences
Very short of breath; speaks in single words or
Does not or slightly uses chest muscles to
Uses chest and neck muscles to breathe. The skin
between, under, and above the ribs collapses inward with each breath.
Uses chest and neck muscles to breathe and may open nostrils
wide; may clutch at the chest
Normal skin color
Pale skin color
Very pale or bluish skin color; may sweat more than
Wheezes while breathing out
Wheezes while breathing in and out
Does not wheeze while breathing. This indicates
little or no air in the airways.
Not as alert as usual and may appear anxious
March 14, 2013
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Lora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology
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