Managing My Child's Asthma
Tips from Ronald Ferdman, MD, pediatric allergist-immunologist from Children's Hospital Los Angeles
Seeing your child struggle with asthma can be difficult. However, getting ahead of it and knowing your options can help prevent the asthma attack or lessen the severity. These 8 tips from a CHLA expert can help manage your child's asthma.
- Know your child’s asthma triggers. This is important not only to minimize the triggers you can control (e.g. tobacco smoke, dust, pet dander, etc), but also to get a head start on responding to triggers you can’t control (respiratory infections, weather changes, etc.)
- In general, do not restrict your child’s physical activity. It is more healthy to take a dose of their quick-relief medication (albuterol or levalbuterol) before exercise (and after if needed) to allow them to run and play, rather than restrict their activity out of concern of triggering their asthma.
- Remember that the first sign of an asthma flare may not be wheezing. Any respiratory symptoms, especially cough, may be an early symptom of asthma. Do not wait for wheezing to start treating your child’s asthma.
- The most effective treatment for chronic asthma is to take a controller (preventative) medication every day. Do not stop your child’s controller medication without speaking to your healthcare provider, even if your child has no asthma symptoms (that means the controller is working!)
- It is expected that every child’s asthma can be controlled most all the time. This means normal ability to exercise, no sleep disturbance at night, no days of school missed and no urgent care visits. Do not accept partially controlled asthma, and ask your healthcare provider how you can adjust your child’s asthma action plan to obtain better control.
- Asthma flares respond much better to treatment the earlier you start the quick-relief (rescue) medications. It is safer to give a dose of your child’s rescue medicine even if you are not entirely sure their asthma is acting up compared to giving the medicine later when their symptoms are more severe.
- Routine colds and respiratory infections are the most common trigger of asthma attacks in children. You should start giving your child their quick-relief medication at the onset of each cold, and not wait until they develop any asthma symptoms.
- Keep quick-relief medicine close by where your child spends time - school, home, daycare. Don’t run out.