Childhood Asthma

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Childhood Asthma: Habits2Have®

Asthma in children requires daily vigilance, but it doesn’t have to keep your child on the sidelines. With proper management and the right medication, children with asthma can do just about anything they want to do. These key Habits to Have® 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 pediatrician. Your child’s doctor will ask about family history, how many colds and respiratory infections your child has had, wheezing/coughing episodes (especially at night) 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 if your child has the following symptoms:

  • 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. Understand how to use — and then be sure to use — a peak-flow meter.

A peak-flow meter is a small, handheld device that measures how well air flows out of your child's lungs. You can track your child's lung functioning — and spot early signs of an asthma attack — by regularly using a peak-flow meter. Learn more about peak-flow meters.

8 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.

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Next: Asthma Triggers Quiz

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