Home > Patients & Visitors > 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 severeasthma attack. The following chart may help you. Talk with a doctor if you are unable to tell how severe your child's symptoms are.
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 sentences
Short of breath; can speak in short phrases or parts of sentences
Very short of breath; speaks in single words or short phrases
Does not or slightly uses chest muscles to breathe
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 normal
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
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD, MPH - PediatricsAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerLora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics
Current as ofDecember 6, 2017
Current as of:
December 6, 2017
John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Lora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics
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