For most kids with asthma,
their symptoms can be controlled — sometimes so well that flare-ups are rare.
But learning about asthma (what treatments to take and when, what triggers to avoid
and when) can be the hardest part of asthma care.
Don't be discouraged. Learn as much as you can, talk to others living with asthma,
read up on asthma, and discuss any concerns with your child's doctor.
Once you and your family are used to dealing with asthma, it will become a normal
part of your routine. These tips can put you on the right path.
Have a plan and stick to it. Your child should have an asthma
action plan. These written instructions from the doctor give clear, step-by-step
directions on what medicines to take and when, how to avoid triggers, what to do between
flare-ups, and how to recognize and manage them if they happen. By following this
plan, you will learn how to care for your child and when to call the doctor for help.
medicines as prescribed. Most kids with asthma need to take medicines.
Some are daily medicines (called long-term
control medicines) to help keep airways from getting irritated. Others are used
only during a flare-up to help open the airways (quick-relief
medicines). Most medicines call for the use of a nebulizer or inhaler to help
get medicine into the lungs. Sometimes medicine is given as a pill or liquid. The
doctor will tell you which medicines your child needs and how to take them.
Identify and avoid triggers.
Triggers are things that can bother airways and lead to an asthma flare-up. Common
triggers are allergens like pollen
and mold, weather
changes, and viral infections (like the common cold).
Finding your child's triggers can take some detective work, but it's worth it. The
doctor can help too — for instance, testing your child for allergies
if you think they're making the asthma worse. When you know your child's triggers,
help your child avoid them as much as possible.
Make sure your child gets a yearly flu
vaccine. The flu vaccine is recommended for all kids, especially those
with asthma. If kids with asthma get the flu, they're at risk for flare-ups and developing
a more serious illness.
Use tools when necessary. One way to help predict if a flare-up
is on its way is to use asthma tools, like an asthma
diary and peak flow meter.
The diary helps you to keep track of your child's asthma symptoms (when they happen),
need for medicines, and more. This can help you learn about your child's early warning
signs, and it can help your child's doctor see how well treatment is working.
A peak flow meter is a handheld tool that measures how well your child can
blow air out of the lungs. It can tell if airways are getting narrow and blocked,
and whether your child is at risk for a flare-up.
Know the signs of a flare-up. After
your child has had a few flare-ups, you may start to notice when a flare-up is going
to happen. Early warning signs can help you spot a flare-up hours or even a day before
obvious symptoms (such as wheezing and coughing) start. Kids can have changes in how
they look, their mood or breathing, or they'll complain of "feeling funny" in some
way. Be sure you know your child's signs and are ready to adjust medicines or give
them, as needed.
Know what to do for a severe flare-up. Know when your child's
symptoms call for medical care, or even a trip to the emergency
room (ER). Always have quick-relief medicine handy in case your child needs it
— everyone who cares for your child (like teachers and coaches) also should
know when and how to give the medicine.