Know your child’s symptoms
You (and your child) should become aware of cues that indicate that his asthma is getting worse. Don’t wait for a full-blown asthma attack before starting medications.
Understand your child’s medications
The number of different inhalers, nebulizer medicines and pills your child may use to treat his asthma can be confusing. Consider labeling the “rescue” inhaler/nebulizer medication with a red label, so you’ll know to grab it in an emergency situation.
Create an Asthma Action Plan
An Asthma Action Plan should be posted at home and kept on file at daycare/school. This plan should outline which medicines to administer daily to prevent asthma symptoms. It will also help you and others understand which medicines to give during an asthma attack.
Keep medications handy and use them correctly
Inhalers don’t help when your child has an attack if they are buried in the back of a drawer. Keep a well-labeled, fresh rescue inhaler handy, both at home and at daycare/school. For children who take preventive medications, make giving those medicines part of your daily routine, so that doses are not forgotten.
Children with asthma must be kept away from cigarette smoke. Period. Smoking outside is not good enough. Exposure to chemicals from cigarettes on your clothes or in your house greatly increases the risk of severe or even life-threatening asthma attacks. Children under the age of 18 have more than 200,000 cigarette-smoke triggered asthma attacks each year in the U.S. The chemicals in cigarettes irritate your asthmatic child’s lungs, making him more susceptible to asthma attacks, bronchitis and pneumonia. If you want help to quit smoking, please talk to your doctor, your child’s pediatrician, call (800) LUNGUSA, or go to the American Lung Association website.
Children with allergies should avoid known allergens. By using allergy medicines, children can avoid uncontrolled symptoms that can trigger the lungs to tighten. Children who wheeze with exercise should warm up before sports practice, and may benefit from an inhaler taken 15-30 minutes before physical activity begins.
Help your child stay (or get) in shape
Obesity is associated with much higher rates of asthma. Being overweight also makes it more difficult to control asthma symptoms. If your child has asthma, help him maintain a healthy weight. If your child is already overweight, talk to your pediatrician about ways to help optimize his weight in order to improve his long-term asthma outcome. We encourage every child with asthma to exercise for an hour a day, just like other children. Lungs stay healthier in those who are physically fit. If your child cannot exercise without coughing or wheezing, please schedule and appointment with us.
Schedule regular asthma check-ups
If your child has well-controlled asthma and does not take daily controller medications, schedule an appointment to review every three to six months. Please see us every three months if your child takes daily controller medications or has break-through asthma symptoms that include:
- Needing a rescue inhaler two or more times per week.
- Waking at night two or more times per month.
- Requiring a rescue inhaler refill more than twice a year.