In general, how do you care for your child with asthma?
- Work with your child’s healthcare provider and see him/her at least every 6 months
- Give your child’s medicine(s) exactly as prescribed
- Keep giving your child his/her long-term “controller” medicine(s) (if using one) even when they are feeling better or well
- Watch for signs that your child’s asthma is getting worse and act quickly
- Treat all symptoms early to prevent an asthma attack
- Identify and avoid your child’s asthma triggers
- Follow your child’s Asthma Action/Medicine Management Plan
- Get an influenza (flu) vaccine for your child beginning in October
How can you tell if your child’s asthma is getting worse?
- The symptoms are occurring more often
- Your child is waking up at night or in the early morning with symptoms
- Your child is needing more quick-relief “rescue” medicine to relieve symptoms
- Medicines do not seem to be working
- Your child is losing sleep or missing school due to asthma symptoms
What specific things can you do to care for a child with asthma?
- Help your child stay away from or eliminate his/her asthma “triggers”.
Learn more: GPM Controlling Asthma Triggers
- Help your child take his/her prescribed medicines.
Your child needs your help to ensure that he/she is accurately and consistently taking his/her medications as they were prescribed. Please review the following to aid your child in learning the right techniques.
- Create and follow an Asthma Action/Medicine Management Plan.
Keeping track of which medicine(s) your child needs and when can be challenging. Knowing when to seek medical attention or emergency assistance can be as well. An Asthma Action/Medicine Management Plan or Asthma Action Plan for short can help. See an Asthma Action Plan.We will create a plan specifically for your child’s own asthma needs. Please ensure that everyone who spends time with your child has a copy handy and encourage them to refer to it when your child is having asthma symptoms.
Most Asthma Action/Medicine Management Plans require you and your child to keep track of how well he/she is breathing by using a peak flow meter. A peak flow meter is a hand-held device that measures how much air can be quickly blown out of the lungs. Peak flow readings tell you if your child’s asthma is in good control, if your child needs medicine or if your child needs help right away. They can warn you that your child’s asthma is starting to flare-up even before symptoms begin. Performing peak flow monitoring requires technical skill. Most children are coordinated enough to perform accurate peak flow readings by 5-6 years of age.
See how to obtain, record, track and respond to your child’s peak flow values:
- Monitor your child’s peak flow.
The type and amount of medicine your child needs varies according to the extent of lung inflammation. Symptoms such as coughing, waking up at night, wheezing, and complaining of chest tightness provide a general indication that inflammation is present. Helpful information can be obtained by using a peak flow meter and applying the results to the peak flow zone system.
- Recognize the “early warning signs” that signal increasing symptoms. These warning signs usually happen long before more serious symptoms occur.Changes in breathing:
- breathing through the mouth
- rapid breathing
- being short of breath
- “My chest feels tight.”
- “My chest hurts.”
- “My mouth is dry.”
- “My neck feels funny.”
- “My neck is itchy.”
- “I don’t feel well.”
Changes in behavior:
- using more and more quick-relief medicine for symptoms
- rubbing the chin or neck in response to feeling itchy
- reluctance to participate in certain activities, especially physical ones
- Make regular office visits.
When your child is feeling well, please make an appointment to see your healthcare provider at least every 6 months so that he/she can monitor your child’s health. Please measure your child’s peak flow values and record them in an asthma diary for 1-2 weeks prior to your appointment.An asthma diary is a record that helps you keep track of your child’s asthma symptoms, how often your child is using medicines, peak flow values and contact with triggers. This diary can be used by you and your healthcare provider to manage your child’s asthma overtime.
Talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns. Encourage your child to do the same. Be sure to mention if your child is taking a “quick-relief” medicine more than 2 times per week. This suggests a need to add or increase the dose of a long-term “controller” medicine. Inform your healthcare provider if your child is having problems with asthma symptoms during sleep, exercise or any other activity.
- Share asthma management strategies with everyone who spends time with your child (relatives, childcare providers, teachers, babysitters, and coaches). Please make sure that anyone caring for your child has a copy of his/her Asthma Action/Medicine Management Plan to reference at times of need.
- Go to the emergency room or call 911 for an ambulance if your child has:
- A peak flow measurement of less than 50% of his/her personal best (is in the red zone) 15 minutes or more after taking a quick relief medicine AND you have not reached your healthcare provider
- Trouble walking and talking due to shortness of breath
- Blue or grey lips or fingernails
After your child’s ER visit, please make a follow up appointment within 48 hours.