An Urgent Care Approach to Asthma in Children—What to Know

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Asthma is commonly misunderstood as an easily controlled illness. However, it can turn into an emergency condition and a life-threatening one in a matter of seconds.

It is vastly important to recognize the signs and symptoms of asthma and use an asthma action plan if necessary. After all, it is the leading cause of hospitalization in children and the third leading cause in the adult population. 

Asthma can be a quiet but tremendously serious medical complication that has much more to it than coughing and wheezing. People should treat it as a complicated medical case, and patients with asthma must obtain appropriate medical assessment as soon as possible.

A Closer Look at Asthma

Asthma is a chronic disease of your child’s airways. It makes it hard for them to let air in and out of the lungs. When your child has asthma, the airways get inflamed, swollen, and narrow. 

The inflammation is due to a genetic predisposition, inhaled allergens or irritants, or both. This makes it hard to breathe. As a result, wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath occur. Children with asthma can also have flare-ups, trouble breathing, and even chest tightness.

Even though it is a longstanding illness, asthma is entirely treatable. You need to manage this chronic illness throughout a child’s life. For many children, you can deal with asthma at home by using appropriate medications and avoiding things that trigger asthma attacks. 

However, some children have more serious diseases and may need to be hospitalized for asthma attacks. There are many different types of asthma, but they all have one common factor: chronic inflammation of the airways, leading to bronchial hyper-responsiveness.

Acute asthma is usually an isolated episode of airway inflammation and narrowing and is one of the most common complaints of children when treated in urgent care centers. It is a quick onset and can immediately become severe, which needs emergency treatment and asthma care. 

The treatment options include:

  • Bronchodilators for the relief of acute symptoms.
  • Preventive medications to reduce the risk of exacerbations.
  • Proper use of inhaled corticosteroids, which you can use alone or combined with long-acting beta-agonists.
  • Aerosolized forms of corticosteroids are used as an emergency measure to prevent severe attacks that are not responsive to medications.

Assessing Children with Acute Asthma

An accurate history is imperative to evaluating any child with asthma. It is necessary to elicit a record of all symptoms, including wheezing, cough, dyspnea, and chest tightness. 

The onset and course of the current episode are also integral to determining the potential severity of the event. Also, you must assess the asthma’s severity event by asking questions about the medication history, associated symptoms and their severity, duration of symptoms, and any underlying medical conditions.

A physical exam is also necessary to evaluate the presence of wheezing, retractions, and tachypnea. The physical exam also serves to assess if there is any cyanosis, pallor, or edema noted.

In addition, a pulmonary exam can also be performed to determine if the child has retractions, wheezing, crackles, rhonchi, or diminished breath sounds.

Making a Proper Diagnosis

One must look for signs and symptoms of asthma to diagnose its severity and the potential for an attack. A history of previous episodes, the presence of triggers such as animal hair, environmental irritants such as dust or tobacco smoke, or a family history of asthma, are essential factors.

The number of symptoms and the presence of acute symptoms determines the severity of your child’s asthma. Acute symptoms include coughing, wheezing, dyspnea, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing.

If the patient has three or more symptoms, then the diagnosis is severe. But if they have one or two symptoms, the diagnosis is moderate. Meanwhile, if the patient has mild or no symptoms, then the patient has mild or intermittent asthma. 

It is fundamental to assess the severity of asthma attacks to plan the best treatment option possible.


Asthma can turn into a serious and life-threatening disease. It can cause complications and worsen the severity of asthma if not properly treated. Early recognition of the symptoms of asthma and proper asthma management can reduce the number and severity of asthma attacks. An accurate diagnosis is necessary to treat asthma. There are a wide variety of passive and active asthma control options available, and one should consult a physician to decide what will best fit the patient’s needs.

Your Kids Urgent Care serves as an intermediary to the emergency room and the primary care physician to children who require urgent care in Vestavia, AL. Let us help you recognize the signs and symptoms of asthma exacerbation and give appropriate medical treatment fast. Contact us today!

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