Your Child’s Asthma: Steps to Safety

Asthma in children requires daily vigilance, but it doesn’t have to keep your child on the sidelines. What’s more, having asthma doesn’t mean that your child can’t live a full life. With proper management and the right medication, children with asthma can do just about anything they want to do. These key steps will help you and your child understand his or her asthma and how to control it.

  1. Talk to your health care provider.
    There is no blood test to confirm asthma in children. If you think your child might have asthma, talk to your child’s doctor.  She or he will ask about family history, how many colds and respiratory infections your child has had, wheezing/coughing episodes, and signs of allergies. Your doctor may perform a pulmonary function test or refer your child to an allergist for further evaluation.
  2. Understand your child’s treatment plan.
    Your child may need some medication every day and other medicine only when symptoms arise. Ask your child’s doctor to explain what medication is used when and how to properly use an inhaler or nebulizer. Call the American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine at 1-800-548-8252  to ask a medical professional your asthma questions. The HelpLine can also refer you to a local chapter for asthma education.
  3. Make an asthma action plan.
    An asthma action plan is a detailed but simple-to-follow chart that explains which medicine to use when, 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.
  4. Know when it’s an asthma emergency. Call 911 immediately has any severe asthma symptoms reviewed by your doctor, which may include:
    • Severe difficulty breathing
    • Can’t speak or cry because of difficulty breathing
    • Passes out
    • Bluish or grayish fingernails or lips
    • Symptoms that came on suddenly after medication, eating food or a bee sting.
  5. 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 the room where your child sleeps. 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 Medlineplus.gov .
  6. Make your child’s school asthma friendly.
    You can help your child control his or her asthma at home, but what about the many hours your son or daughter is at school? Use this checklist from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to determine how asthma-friendly your school is .
  7. Help your child understand asthma.
    As your child gets older, he or she will assume more asthma responsibility. Help your child understand triggers, symptoms and the importance of medicine with kid-friendly websites like this one from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology .

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

Sources: American Lung Association; Medlineplus; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 

Originally published: August 6, 2015

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