How a Coach Can Help a Child Having an Asthma Attack

Published: August 29, 2016
Photo: Getty

Q: I’m a baseball coach and one of our team members recently had a mild asthma attack. I followed the asthma action plan, made sure the child got two puffs of the reliever inhaler, and told the parent. I’m left wondering: how do you know that it’s a more severe attack and time to call an ambulance? Also, in a mild or severe attack, aside from using the inhaler, should a child sit, stand or lie down?

Dr. Bassett: While there is no official recommended body position for a patient experiencing an asthma attack, many individuals are more comfortable while sitting upright, and less so while lying down.

More importantly, the potential “warning signs” of worsening asthma during and attack may include:

  • A sensation of agitation or uneasiness
  • Speaking in words rather than in complete sentences
  • Decreased appetite
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • And a drop in peak flow rates on the child’s peak flow meter.

If the asthma does not improve with the child’s prescribed medication, or if some of these warning signs occur, it may be time to visit a local urgent care facility to prevent symptoms from advancing, or to call 911.

Dr. Clifford Bassett, allergist and asthma specialist, is the Medical Director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York (; Twitter @allergyreliefny). He is on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and is also the author of The New Allergy Solution: Supercharge Resistance, Slash Medication, Stop Suffering.

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