Common Asthma Terms

Be ready when you hear these words during an asthma visit

Asthma Control

 When a child can learn, play and sleep without Asthma getting in the way

Take the quiz to learn if asthma is controlled!

Asthma exacerbation

can also be  called acute asthma attack or asthma flare.

This is when asthma symptoms get worse. The child may need quick-relief medication at least every four hours and additional medical care and oral therapy such as oral steroids.


The tightening or spasm of the muscles around the airways, which makes the airways narrower and more difficult to get air into and out of the lungs.

Think about breathing through a coffee straw instead of a milkshake straw! 


is irritation, redness, and swelling of the airways.


A trigger is anything that causes your child to have asthma symptoms.
Examples of triggers are:

  • any type of smoke
  • strong smells
  • allergy to cats or dogs
  • exercise
  • cold air


Controller medications are inhaled steroids that are taken daily to prevent symptoms.

  • Examples: Flovent, Qvar, Asmanex

Quick relief medications are short-acting medications that relieve muscle tightening.

  • Example: Albuterol

    Valved holding chambers (spacers)

    Valved holding chambers, sometimes called spacers, are devices added to an inhaler to help medications get delivered to the airways.

    They help with hand/lung coordination and also reduce local side effects.

    A face mask is added to the spacer to help very young children and infants take medications from a metered dose inhaler.

    MDI (Metered Dose Inhaler) with valve-holding chamber (spacer) are as effective as nebulizers


    Zone refer to your child’s asthma action plan. 

    Green Zone: No Symptoms Pretreat •No current symptoms •Strenuous activity planned PRETREATMENT FOR STRENUOUS ACTIVITY, please choose ONE: ☐Not required OR ☐ Student/Parent request OR ☐ Routinely Give QUICK RELIEF MED 10-15 minutes before activity: ☐ 2 puffs ☐ 4 puffs Repeat in 4 hours, if needed for additional physical activity. If child is currently experiencing symptoms, follow YELLOW or RED ZONE. If the child is in the YELLOW ZONE they have Mild symptoms •Trouble breathing •Wheezing •Frequent cough •Chest tightness •Not able to do activities 1.Give QUICK RELIEF MED: ☐ 2 puffs ☐ 4 puffs 2.Stay with child/youth and maintain sitting position. 3.REPEAT QUICK RELIEF MED if not improving in 15 minutes: ☐ 2 puffs ☐ 4 puffs 4.Child/youth may go back to normal activities, once symptoms are relieved. 5.Notify parents/guardians and school nurse. If symptoms do not improve or worsen, follow RED ZONE. If a child is in the RED ZONE: this is an emergenty/ EMERGENCY Severe Symptoms •Coughs constantly •Struggles to breathe •Trouble talking (only speaks 3-5 words) •Skin of chest and/or neck pull in with breathing •Lips/fingernails gray/blue 1.Give QUICK RELIEF MED: ☐ 2 puffs ☐ 4 puffs Refer to the anaphylaxis care plan if the student has a life threatening allergy. If there is no anaphylaxis care plan follow emergency guidelines for anaphylaxis. 2.Call 911 and inform EMS the reason for the call. 3.REPEAT QUICK RELIEF MED if not improving: ☐ 2 puffs ☐ 4 puffs Can repeat every 5-15 minutes until EMS arrives. 4.Stay with child/youth. Remain calm, encouraging slower, deeper breaths. 5.Notify parents/guardians and school nurse.

    There are green, yellow and red zones, which are categorized by symptoms.

    This information helps you to know the correct steps to take to manage your child’s asthma.

    Families can learn more about helping kids with asthma: 

    What you need to know about Asthma today

    Asthma Care Plans