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Asthma/Asthmatic Bronchitis

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Asthma comes in attacks. The child has difficulties with breathing and coughs. Most children with asthma have a normal childhood, when treated with the right medication. Call the doctor immediately, if the child is having trouble breathing and has a fever.

Children can be allergic to different things such as dust, pollen, fur-bearing animals or food. When the child gets in contact with the allergy-causing subject, this can lead to allergy illnesses such as asthma, child-eczema and hay fever.

Small children often catch a cold. Some of them cough for weeks and have wheezing breathing – it almost sounds like a coffee-machine that needs descaling. You call such long-term coughing with wheezing breathing asthmatic bronchitis. The characteristic of asthmatic bronchitis is that it only appears when the child has a cold. Most children with asthmatic bronchitis outgrows the illness before they start in school but with some children, it continues as asthma. It is difficult to predict which children outgrows their asthmatic bronchitis and which children has asthma later on.

Asthma is a common illness. It has not yet been fully identified what causes asthma. Studies have shown that allergy, tobacco-smoke, common cold and physical activity (play and sport) can trigger an asthma-attack, when having asthma. Many children with asthma are also allergic to certain things.

An asthma-attack often starts simultaneously with a common cold. After a few days with a cold, the child has trouble breathing and the cough worsens. The child has particular trouble blowing air out and the breath out is accompanied by wheezing and squeaking sounds from the chest.

It can be difficult to detect because children are good at “hiding” that they have trouble breathing. For example, a child is keen on playing football as long as the child is a goalkeeper. The child is also willing to play with other children, but preferably indoors in front of the computer. You should consider whether your child suffers from asthma if it repeatedly has prolonged cough.

Click here to read about how you evaluate your child


Most children with asthma can have a normal childhood with play and sport, when treated with the right medication. Spray by inhalation is the best medication. Spray is more efficient and causes fewer side effects than e.g. mixture or pills. It is very important to inhale the medication correctly; otherwise, it will not get down to the lungs where it has effect.

It is necessary that you, as a parent, get thorough advice on how to use the medication. It takes some practice to give the child its medication correctly. If it’s the first time that your child have an attack of asthmatic bronchitis the doctor will normally start by giving the child a mixture, that expands the respiratory passages, so the child can breathe better and coughs less. In case of repeated attacks of asthmatic bronchitis and asthma, you should change the treatment to spray. Consult with your doctor about this. Normally you get a prescription on two kinds of spray.

  • A red/brown spray that preludes attacks and prevents the illness getting worse. You use this every day.
  • A blue spray that quickly expands the respiratory passages. Normally, this is only used in the case of attacks.

You can get help and guidance from your doctor or at the pharmacy.

What can you do?

It is important that children with asthma and asthmatic bronchitis do not get in contact with fur-bearing animals and smoke because this can trigger an attack. If submitted to tobacco-smoke, there is a higher risk that the child’s illness will intensify.

The child shall stay in a cool room with fresh air during an asthma-attack. As the child may be afraid, it is important that you keep calm and soothe the child, because this will improve the breathing.

As a parent, you should know how to treat an attack. You can get help from your doctor.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

If you think that, your child has asthma. The doctor can make a diagnosis and examine for allergy. If the child is still coughing despite the treatment.

Contact the doctor immediately

If the child is exhausted, grey-pale, cold sweaty or has blue lips and hands.

If the child’s breathing does not get better despite your treatment.

If the child has trouble breathing and have a fever at the same time.