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How can I control my child’s asthma?


Most children with asthma can control their symptoms; sometimes it’s so well done that attacks are uncommon. But knowing about asthma, what treatments to use and when, what triggers to avoid and when, can be the hardest part of asthma care.

Don’t get down on yourself. Learn all you can, talk to others asthma patients, read about asthma, and discuss all your worries with your child’s doctor. Once you and your family get used to managing asthma, it will become a normal part of your routine.

These tips can guide you.

Have a plan and stick to it. Your child should have an asthma action plan. These are written prescriptions that provide clear, step-by-step instructions on what medicines to take and when, how to avoid triggers, what to do between attacks, and how to recognize and treat them when they occur. Following this plan will help you learn how to care for your child and when to call your pediatrician for help.

Administer medications as prescribed. Most children with asthma need medication. Some are medicines taken every day, to help prevent airway irritation. Others are only used during an attack to help open the airways. Most medications must be administered with a nebulizer or inhaler to get the medication into the lungs. Sometimes the medicine is given in tablet or liquid form. Your doctor will tell you which medicines your child needs and how to take them.

Identify and avoid triggers. Triggers are things that affect the airways and can cause an asthma attack. Common triggers include allergens such as pollen, mold, weather change and infections (such as the common cold). Figuring out what your child’s triggers are may take a little detective work, but it’s worth it. Doctors can also help; for example, get allergy testing if you think it’s making his asthma worse. If you know what your child’s triggers are, help him avoid them as much as possible.

Make sure your child gets a flu shot every year. It is recommended that all children get a flu shot, especially those with asthma. When children with asthma get the flu, they are at risk for seizures and more serious illness.

Use tools if needed. One way to predict if your child will have an asthma attack is to use asthma tools such as an asthma diary and peak flow meter. The diary helps you keep track of your child’s asthma symptoms (if any), medication needs and more. This can help you learn more about your child’s warning signs and can help your child’s doctor see how treatment is working.

The peak flow meter is a portable device that measures your child’s ability to push air out of his or her lungs. It helps determine if the airways are narrowed and blocked and if your child is at risk for seizures.

Know the signs of a seizure. Once your child has had a few seizures, you may begin to notice them. Warning signs can help detect a seizure hour or even days before obvious symptoms (such as wheezing or coughing) appear. Children may experience changes in their appearance, mood, breathing or complain of feeling “strange.” Be sure you know your child’s signs and be prepared to adjust or administer medications as needed. Know what to do when he or she has a severe attack.

Know when your child’s symptoms require medical attention or a visit to the emergency room. Always have quick tools on hand in case your child needs them; anyone caring for your child (such as teachers and coaches) should also know how and when to give medications.

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