Asthma affects over 10 percent of children. It is the most common chronic disease of childhood. If your child has been diagnosed as having asthma, you need to become an expert on treating it:
- First: In children with asthma, coughing almost always means that wheezing will follow within a matter of hours. So, start the asthma rescue medicine (usually inhaled albuterol) as soon as your child has any coughing or shortness of breath. Do not wait for wheezing. The later medicines are begun, the longer it takes to turn off the wheezing. Also, take the rescue medicine with you when you go on trips or to other people's homes.
- Second: Continue your child's asthma maintenance or controller medicine during asthma attacks. Maintenance medicines usually refer to inhaled steroids, which are given every day to prevent asthma attacks.
- Third: For hay fever symptoms, it's okay to give antihistamines (poor control of nasal allergies and constant sniffing makes asthma worse).
- Fourth: Encourage a normal intake of clear fluids. Good hydration makes it easier to cough up the sticky lung mucus.
- Fifth: Avoid triggers. Tobacco smoke is one of the most common triggers of asthma attacks. Tobacco smoke can persist in a room for up to 1 week after the last person has smoked there. Forbid all smoking in your home. Also, avoid feather pillows and keep pets outdoors. If the asthma attack started after exposure to pollens, animal dander, or other allergens, give a shower to remove them from the hair and body. During asthma attacks, also avoid exercise and sports.
In summary, the new prescription medicines available for treating asthma are excellent at controlling symptoms. They work best if they're started early and are continued until your youngster has not wheezed or coughed for at least 48 hours. Remember: The best "cough medicine" for a child with asthma is always the asthma medicine.
If you think your child may need to be seen, call your healthcare provider for advice.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 12/10/2006 11:26:28 AM
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.