Healthy Living with Asthma

Healthy Living with Asthma

Your child has asthma. Now what? First, know you’re not alone. Asthma is the most common long-term disease in children.

Millions of families do everything they can to keep their children’s asthma under control. Learning how to keep asthma in check helps children feel better and miss fewer school days. They have a better chance to enjoy a normal, activities during the day and better sleep at night. 

Here are ways you can help your child control their asthma.

Manage Asthma Triggers

One key to good asthma control is fending off your child’s triggers. Triggers are things that may set off asthma symptoms or make them worse. They vary from child to child. Common triggers include: 

  • Cold, dry air 
  • Physical activity
  • Allergies (dust mites, furry animals, mold, and pollen) 
  • Certain infections (for example, colds and sinus infections) 
  • Strong odors 

Work with your child’s doctor to find these triggers. Talk about ways to handle them. Try these strategies for some of the most common triggers found at home.  

  • Furry animals. Keep dogs and cats out of your child’s bedroom. If your child has a pet hamster, rabbit or guinea pig, have someone else clean the cage. 
  • Dust mites. These microscopic bugs thrive in mattresses, pillows, bedding and other cloth items. Encase mattresses and pillows in allergy-proof covers. Wash bedding weekly in hot water. 
  • Indoor mold. Pay attention to damp areas where mold grows. Scrub mold from hard surfaces with water and detergent. Dry the area completely. Repair and seal any leaks. 
Use Asthma Medication 

Another key to success is making sure your child takes asthma medication as directed. Some of these medicines provide quick relief when your child has a flare-up. Others help prevent the onset of symptoms.

Asthma medication helps reduce coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath. Talk with your child’s doctor about when and how to give it. If your child has an inhaler, ask the doctor to show you and your child how to use it correctly.

Check Expiration Dates 

Medicines can change chemically over time. They can stop working or even become unsafe. The start of a new year is a good time to check expiration dates on your child’s medication. Follow label instructions to properly dispose of any medications that are out of date.

Keep Up the Good Work 

Controlling asthma triggers is an ongoing job. Follow your child’s treatment plan, even when your child is symptom-free. Otherwise, they might come back. 

Deal with Emotional Triggers 

Anxiety and stress can make asthma symptoms worse. Teach your child how to self-soothe with these simple tips: 

  • Calm down. Deep breaths help relax the body and mind. 
  • Get moving. Physical activity eases tension and occupies the mind. If exercise triggers asthma symptoms, talk with your child’s doctor. Using an inhaler before exercise may prevent symptoms. 
  • Talk about it. Tell a trusted adult about fears and worries. Sometimes, just saying it out loud makes fear seem less powerful. 
Be There for Your Child 

Let your child know you’re available to talk about problems and worries. Start a conversation by sharing a thought or feeling of your own rather than asking a question first. If your child shares something in return, listen closely. 

Raise an Asthma-Wise Child 

Children feel like they have more control when they help manage their asthma. Talk with your child’s doctor about how much responsibility your child is ready to handle. Children as young as three may be able to use an inhaler leaving site icon with adult help. Some school-aged children may be ready to carry an inhaler and use it as needed. Children can also gradually become more involved in ways to manage their asthma triggers. 

To learn more about Asthma and the Taking on Asthma initiative, visit our website.

Sources: Asthma in Kids, leaving site icon National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 2023; Reduce Asthma Triggers, leaving site icon American Lung Association, 2022; Asthma Action Plans, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023; Learn How to Control Asthma, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019

Originally published 6/9/2016; Revised 2023