Asthma is a chronic disease of the lung which can cause difficulty breathing and, if not treated, can be life-threatening.

Asthma symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Coughing
  • Breathing hard and fast
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breathlessness
  • Wheezing
  • Waking at night due to asthma symptoms
  • Fatigue, tiredness, or lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing out
  • Headaches
  • Can’t talk, eat, or walk well
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Blue or gray lips and fingernails

The American Lung Association lists these early warning signs of an asthma attack.


  • Anxious or scared look
  • Cough
  • Unusual paleness or sweating
  • Flared nostrils when the child tries to get some air
  • Pursed lips breathing
  • Fast breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Hunched-over body posture; the child can't stand or sit straight and can't relax
  • Restlessness during sleep
  • Fatigue that isn't related to working or playing hard
  • The notch just above the child's Adam's apple; when some children are having an asthma episode, this notch sinks in as they breathe in
  • Spaces between the ribs may sink in when the child breathes in


  • Coughing when the child has no cold
  • Clearing of the throat a lot
  • Irregular Breathing
  • Wheezing, however light
  • Noisy, difficult breathing

It is important to follow your doctor's instructions and Asthma Action Plan.


Please print the age appropriate Asthma Action Plan for your child and bring it to your licensed healthcare practitioner to complete and then return it to your school nurse along with the prescribed medication/inhaler:

State of CT DPH Asthma Action Plan for children ages 0 to 11

State of CT DPH Asthma Action Plan for children ages 12 and older

If your child has asthma it is important to notify your child's school nurse and teacher and to bring any necessary medicine to school should your child need it. A doctor's order and parent authorization is required to administer medication in school. See your school nurse or our Health Forms web page for the form that you will need completed.

“Keys to Good Asthma Control” (based on the 2007 NIH Expert Panel 3 Report):

  • Good asthma control means:

§Using your quick-relief (or rescue) medicine less than twice a week for asthma symptoms

§Not having nighttime asthma symptoms more than twice a month

§Being able to exercise and play as hard and fast as other children

  • Schedule appointments with your Health Care Provider for routine asthma assessment at least every 6 months and whenever you’re not sure your child’s asthma is well-controlled
  • Work with your Health Care Provider to make an Asthma Action Plan and know how to use it
  • Know how to inhale your medication – all inhalers (“puffers”) work better with a spacer because more medicine will get deeper into the lungs
  • Know your individual asthma triggers and how to avoid them – if you’re not sure, ask your health care provider about allergy testing
  • Any smoking in a home or car where a child with asthma will be can make their asthma worse

Michael T. Corjulo APRN, CPNP, AE-C

For further information about asthma please visit these sites:

CDC - Asthma

U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

CT Department of Health

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this material. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.