If you have a child with asthma, you know how frightening wheezing, coughing, and other asthma symptoms can be. Some children eventually outgrow asthma, but for many it is a long-term disease that requires a long-term treatment plan.
With the right asthma action plan, most children with asthma can live full and active lives.
Asthma action plan
An asthma action plan is a strategy for treating and living with asthma that you and your child's health care provider create. Because every child is different, it’s important for you and your child to take an active role in your plan to make sure that it’s right for your child's lifestyle. Your participation and feedback will help your doctor adjust your child's plan over time.
The three parts of an asthma action plan are: identifying and avoiding asthma triggers, taking the right type of medication when needed, and managing asthma over the long-term. Your asthma action plan will require checking how well you are moving air through your lungs with a peak flow meter.
Identifying asthma triggers
An asthma attack occurs when something—often referred to as a trigger—causes the tubes that carry air in and out of your child's lungs to become swollen and narrow. This makes breathing more difficult and causes the symptoms of an asthma attack.
Doctors don't completely understand why some children's airways are so sensitive, but sometimes triggers that cause an attack can be identified and avoided.
Common triggers include:
Dust, mold, pet dander, pollen, and other substances that cause an allergic reaction
Tobacco smoke, cold air, aerosol sprays, perfumes, and other substances that irritate the lungs
Medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, may cause symptoms in some children. Discuss with your child's doctor which over-the-counter medications are safe to give your child.
Some food preservatives
An asthma attack may also be triggered by an upper respiratory infection and, in some kids, asthma symptoms may be triggered by exercise.
Taking the right medication
The goal of asthma treatment for your child is to get the best asthma control with the least amount of medication. There are two basic medication strategies used when avoiding triggers is not enough: rescue or "quick relief" medication, and medication to help control symptoms over the long-term.
If your child needs medication to stop an asthma attack, he or she may be given a prescription for a rescue medication. These medications quickly open up your child's airways. In many cases these medications are given as an inhaler, and are to be used only as needed.
The other basic type of medication strategy is one that your child takes regularly (such as every day) to better control asthma, prevent asthma attacks, and reduce the need for rescue medication. It is important that these medicines be given even when your child is having no asthma symptoms. That means the medicine is doing its job!
Keep in mind that your child's medication needs may change over time.
Managing your child’s asthma
To make sure your child is living well with asthma, you need to keep track of your child's symptoms, keep your home free from asthma triggers, and get your child frequent check-ups.
Here are some of the ways you can help your child manage asthma:
Avoid allergy triggers by using an air conditioner during pollen season; reduce mold by using a dehumidifier; and reduce dust allergy by washing bed sheets weekly in hot water and keeping stuffed animals off your child's bed. If you have pets in your home, keep them out of your child's room.
Learn how to use a peak flow meter to keep track of your child's asthma. Your doctor will teach you and your child to use this meter, which measures how well air is flowing in and out of your child's lungs. Keep track of your child's allergy symptoms and peak flow meter readings.
Learn what symptoms require a call to your doctor or an office visit. These could be lower than normal peak flow meter readings, asthma symptoms that are not responding to medications, trouble sleeping due to asthma symptoms, loss of time at school, or needing to use rescue medication more than two days a week.
Most children live a full and active life with asthma. You can help by learning as much as you can about your child's condition and by taking an active role in helping him or her manage this common childhood disease.
Asthma QuizChildren are more likely to have asthma than are ...Asthma Quiz ►
Prednisone Oral solution
Prednisone Oral tablet
Methylprednisolone Sodium Succinate Solution for injection
Methylprednisolone Oral tablet
Dexamethasone Sodium Phosphate Solution for injection
Dexamethasone Oral tablet
Formoterol Fumarate Nebulizer solution
Methylprednisolone Acetate Suspension for injection
Fluticasone Furoate Nasal spray
Hydrocortisone Topical spray
Fluticasone, Salmeterol Inhaler
Epinephrine Hydrochloride Nasal spray
Aminophylline Oral tablet
Dexamethasone Oral solution
Fluticasone Propionate Topical lotion
Hydrocortisone Rectal enema, suspension
Hydrocortisone Rectal cream
Montelukast Sodium Chewable tablet
Epinephrine Solution for injection
Levalbuterol Tartrate Pressurized inhalation, suspension
Dexamethasone Sodium Phosphate Eye ointment
Triamcinolone Acetonide Nasal spray
Dyphylline Oral tablet
Omalizumab (Hamster) Solution for injection
Montelukast Sodium Oral granules
Terbutaline Sulfate Solution for injection
Terbutaline Sulfate Oral tablet
Salmeterol Xinafoate Inhalation powder
Salmeterol, Xinafoate Inhaler
Metaproterenol Sulfate Nebulizer solution
Metaproterenol Sulfate Inhaler
Metaproterenol Sulfate Oral tablet
Levalbuterol Hydrochloride Nebulizer solution
Formoterol Fumarate Inhalation powder, capsule
Fluticasone, Salmeterol Inhalation powder
Epinephrine Hydrochloride Solution for injection
Epinephrine Hydrochloride Inhalation vapour, solution
Ephedrine Sulfate Solution for injection
Albuterol Sulfate Nebulizer solution
Albuterol Sulfate Oral syrup
Zafirlukast Oral tablet
Montelukast Sodium Oral tablet
Nedocromil Sodium Eye drops, solution
Nedocromil Sodium Inhaler
Cromolyn Sodium Nasal spray, solution
Cromolyn Sodium Eye drops, solution
Cromolyn Sodium Nebulizer solution
Cromolyn Sodium Inhaler
Cromolyn Sodium Oral solution
Prednisolone Sodium Phosphate Oral solution
Prednisolone Oral tablet
Flunisolide Nasal spray
Cortisone Acetate Oral tablet
Budesonide Nebulizer suspension
Budesonide Inhalation powder
Budesonide Oral capsule, gastro-resistant pellets
Beclomethasone Dipropionate Nasal spray
Triamcinolone Acetonide Inhaler
Triamcinolone Acetonide Dental paste
Triamcinolone Oral tablet
Hydrocortisone Acetate Rectal suppository
Hydrocortisone Acetate Rectal foam
Hydrocortisone Sodium Succinate Solution for injection
Hydrocortisone Oral tablet
Fluticasone Propionate Nasal spray
Fluticasone Propionate Inhalation powder
Fluticasone Propionate Inhaler
Betamethasone Valerate Topical foam
Betamethasone Acetate, Betamethasone Sodium Phosphate Suspension for injection
Betamethasone Oral syrup