Your Child’s Asthma: Steps to Safety

Your Child’s Asthma: Steps to Safety

Children with asthma need special care to keep their condition under control. It doesn’t mean they have to sit on the sidelines and miss out on the things they enjoy. With proper management and the right medication, children with asthma can enjoy a full life.

Start with these key steps. By doing so, you and your child will better understand asthma, how to treat its symptoms and prevent attacks.

  1. Talk to your health care provider.
    There is no blood test to confirm asthma in children. If you think your child may have asthma, talk to your child’s doctor.  Share your family history – along with details about any colds, respiratory infections, wheezing, coughing and allergies your child may have.

Your doctor may perform a pulmonary function test or refer your child to an allergist for more evaluation.

  1. Understand your child’s treatment plan.
    Your child may need some medication every day and other medicine only when symptoms arise. Ask your doctor to explain how and when each is used. Make sure you know how to properly use an inhaler or nebulizer.

Call the American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine at 1-800-548-8252. leaving site icon One of its medical professionals will be happy to answer your questions about asthma. The HelpLine can also help you connect with a local chapter that offers asthma education.

  1. Make an asthma action plan.
    This detailed, but simple-to-follow chart, outlines when to asthma medicines and when to call the doctor. Make sure everyone who cares for your child (babysitters, relatives, daycare providers, teachers and school nurse) has a copy of the plan and understands how to use it.
  2. Know when your child is having an asthma emergency.

Call 911 immediately if your child has any of the severe asthma symptoms flagged by your doctor. This can include any time your child:

  • Has severe difficulty breathing
  • Can’t speak or cry because of difficulty breathing
  • Passes out
  • Develops bluish or grayish fingernails or lips
  • Shows sudden symptoms after taking medicine, eating food or a bee sting.
  1. Make your home asthma safe. 
    If you smoke, stop smoking in your home. Better yet, stop smoking altogether. Help your child avoid asthma triggers by removing as many allergens from your home as possible. Avoid wall-to-wall carpet and remove stuffed animals from your child’s bedroom. Use mattress pads and pillow covers to limit exposure to dust mites. Keep windows closed and use an air conditioner on high-pollen days. Learn more at Medlineplusleaving site icon 
  2. Make your child’s school asthma friendly.
    You can help control your child’s asthma at home, but what about school? Use this quiz leaving site icon from the American Lung Association to see if your child’s school is asthma friendlyleaving site icon 
  3. Help your child understand asthma.
    As children grow older, they can take on more responsibility to manage their asthma. Help your child understand triggers, symptoms and the importance of medicine. This kid-friendly website from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology leaving site icon can help.

Does your child have asthma? Tell us how they’re managing it in the comments below.

Sources: Finding Support to Help You Manage Asthma, leaving site icon American Lung Association, 2023; Stay Away from Asthma Triggers, leaving site icon MedlinePlus, 2022; Is Your School Up to the Asthma-Friendly Challenge?leaving site icon American Lung Association, 2022; Just for Kids, leaving site icon American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, 2023

Originally published 8/6/2015; Revised 2020, 2023