Common Symptoms of an Asthma Attack

•	Coughing.

•	Shortness of breath.

•	Wheezing.

•	Chest tightness.

In the event of an asthma attack....

•	Stay calm.

•	Don't leave the child alone.

•	Remove asthma triggers or move the child
away from any triggers.

•	Have the child sit or stand in a comfortable
position. Do NOT allow her to lie down.

•	If a child's Asthma Action Plan is available,
begin following it immediately.

•	Have the child use her quick relief medi-

•	Call the parent/guardian or healthcare pro-
vider if symptoms persist.

Signs of Severe Asthma - CALL 911 if the
child shows any ONE of the severe signs
of asthma.

•	Worsening of symptoms after use of quick
-relief medication.

•	Difficulty walking or talking — hunched

•	Retractions (sucking in of skin at ribs and

•	Pale, blue, or gray complexion around lips
and fingernails.

Other Resources

For more information on...

•	Asthma and Environmental Triggers visit
www. epa. gov/ asthma

•	Air Pollution Levels visit

•	Asdima Action Plan visit

www. cdc .go v/ asthm a / actionplan. html

•	Asthma Medications visit
www. 1 ungusa. org /1 ung-

disease/asthma /living-with-asthma/makin g-
treatment-decisions/ astkma-medicines.html

•	Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of
Asthmatics visit


•	A.D.A.M.

www. adamimages. com / Illustration / SearchR
esult/1 / Asthma

•	Asthma Society of Canada

•	Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

•	Minnesota Department of Health Coach' s
Asthma Clipboard

www. health. state .mo. us/ asthm a / coachclipbo

•	Respiratory Health Association of Metropoli-
tan Chicago

www. lungchicago. org/asthma-management

Monica Paguia
Asthma Program Coordinator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Phone: 312-353-1166

girl scouts

of greater chicago
and northwest

What Every
Girl Scout
Troop Leader
Should Know


United States
Environmental Protection

What Every Girl Scout
Troop Leader Should
Know About Asthma

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a serious, sometimes life-threatening res-
piratory disease where the lungs' airways
(bronchioles) become inflamed and produce mucus,
while the muscles around the airways constrict mak-
ing it difficult to breathe.



•	Asthma affects the quality of life for almost 25
million Americans, including an estimated

7 million children.

•	Asthma is one of the most common serious
chronic diseases of childhood.

•	Asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitaliza-
tion among children under IS.

•	An average of one out of every 10 school-aged
children has asthma.

•	Asthma causes 10.5 million missed school days
each year.

Although there is no cure for asthma yet, asthma can
be controlled through medical treatment and man-
agement of environmental triggers.


Children with asthma have attacks intermittently in
response to various triggers. Each child is different,
and most children with asthma know what their
triggers are. Identify the triggers that affect those
with astlima in your troop.


•	Dust mites found in carpeting, upholstery, pil-
lows, stuffed toys.

•	Animal dander from warm-blooded animals
with fur or feathers.

•	Pollen from trees, plants and grasses (freshly cut
grass too).

•	Roach and rodent droppings.

•	Mold.


•	Environmental tobacco smoke from cigarettes,
cigars, pipes.

•	Air pollution like ozone and particulate matter.

•	Strong odors from chemical sprays, perfumes,
cleaning products, air fresheners, and other


•	Weather conditions like extreme cold, humid-
ity, or a rapid change in conditions (cold to hot,
hot to cold).

•	Exercise—if properly controlled the child should
be able to fully participate in the activity.

•	Upper respiratory infections like the flu or

•	Emotional reactions like laughing, crying, and

•	Certain foods and medicines.


•	Long-term medications treat the main prob-
lem of astlima, airway inflammation. These
medications are taken at least once daily and
help prevent attacks from happening long
term. They are taken even when no signs or
symptoms are apparent.

•	Quick-relief medications relax the muscles
around the airways; they do not treat inflam-
mation. These medications provide quick,
temporary relief and their effects can last up
to four hours. When they wear off, the muscle
tightening can return.


•	Identify the children with asthma in your
troop. Approach this with sensitivity. Feel-
ings of social stigma or embarrassment due to
the disease are commonly experienced by
many asthma sufferers.

•	Talk with the parent and child to learn about
the child's asthma triggers and symptoms.

•	Request a copy of the child's Asthma Action

» If possible, avoid known triggers.

•	Ensure that the child has convenient access to
her asthma medications at all times.

•	Enable the child to carry and administer her
own medications if the parent/guarchan and
healthcare provider so advise.


•	Never allow the children to share their asthma

•	Take the child's asthma triggers seriously.

•	Encourage children with asthma that do not
have an Asthma Action Plan to consult their
health care provider to create one.

•	Do not overprotect or isolate the child with

Normal bronchiole	Asthmatic bronchiole