Asthma Symptoms | Patient Education | UC Davis Children's Hospital

An Introduction to

Asthma in Children and Teens

Asthma symptoms

girl clutching chest

Symptoms are what you feel in your body. The symptoms of asthma are different for every child, but here are some common symptoms of asthma that your child may experience:

  • Coughing: Your child’s cough might be worse at night or after exercise. Coughing may be the only asthma symptom your child experiences.
  • Shortness of breath: Your child might say they can’t catch their breath or they feel out of breath, like they can’t get enough air out of their lungs. They might have trouble saying more than a few words at a time.
  • Wheezing: A whistling or squeaky sound when your child breathes.
  • Tightness in the chest: Your child might feel as if someone is squeezing or sitting on their chest.

Your child may have some or all of these symptoms. These symptoms might be mild or very severe in an asthma attack. Learn to recognize your child’s symptoms. Quick management of symptoms will make the attack less severe.

The Asthma Symptom Guide
  • green zone boy with a score

    Green Zone – Doing well

    • No cough, wheeze, chest tightness or shortness of breath during the day or night.
    • Your child can do usual activities

    What to do

    • Continue to take your medications as directed
    • Utilize your controller medication daily and your reliever medication as needed.
  • boy with asthma on the bed

    Yellow Zone – Asthma is getting worse

    • Cough, wheeze, chest tightness or shortness of breath, or
    • Waking at night due to asthma, or
    • Can do some, but not all, usual activities

    What to do

    • Follow the asthma action plan.
  • boy can not breath

    Red Zone – Medical Alert!

    • Very short of breath, or
    • Quick reliefe medicines have not helped, or
    • Cannot do usual activities, or
    • Symptoms are the same or getting worse after 24 hours in Yellow Zone

    What to do

    • Call the doctor immediately or 911 if it is an emergency.