Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children. It's the reason many kids get admitted to Children's Hospital Colorado. There is no cure, but with the right treatment of your child's asthma and self-care, your child can live a healthy life and participate in all their favorite activities.
Controlling your child's asthma
Planning and preparation are key to managing your child's asthma. These tips can help you manage your child's asthma symptoms and prevent asthma attacks.
Make an Asthma Action Plan
- Make sure your child's healthcare provider gives you a written Asthma Action Plan at every visit.
- Put a copy of your child's Asthma Action Plan in a visible place in the house where it's easy to read, such as a refrigerator.
- Give your child's school a copy of their School Asthma Action Plan in case symptoms happen there. The School Asthma Action Plan is a little different from the action plan you use at home.
- Talk to other adults who work with your child often, including teachers, coaches and activity leaders, about your child's asthma triggers and asthma attack symptoms.
- Keep all asthma medicines and devices in one place, such as a duffle bag or plastic container. Make sure the container is easy to open.
Managing your child's asthma medications
- Clean your child's asthma medication devices often.
- Help your child take controller medications before brushing his or her teeth in the morning and at night. This will help your child remember to take his or her medication every day and prevent thrush (an infection) in and around the mouth.
- Children with exercise-induced asthma symptoms should take their quick-reliever medicine 10-15 minutes before the activity starts.
- Keep track of how many doses of asthma medication there are in the medication device. For the medication devices that do not have a dose counter on them, mark the device with a piece of masking tape and mark off each dose used.
- Make sure your child receives a flu shot every fall.
- Make sure your child has their quick relief medicine at all times, in case they start to have asthma symptoms. Some schools let students keep their medicine with them, but some schools do not. Talk to your child's school to make sure your family knows and follows the policy.
- When you travel away from home, remember to have all of your child's asthma attack medications and devices where you can get to them.
- If you have questions about your child's asthma or need a medication refilled, call your child's healthcare provider.
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Avoiding asthma triggers
Children with asthma have extra-sensitive airways and many things around them (triggers) can make their asthma worse.
Asthma triggers are different for each child. Try to keep your child away from his or her triggers to reduce asthma symptoms, especially where the child spends most of his or her time, like at home and at school.
If the child starts having asthma attack symptoms such as cough, chest tightness, wheezing or trouble breathing, follow the instructions on his or her asthma action plan.
Five common asthma triggers
- Being around smoke can cause an asthma attack and increases the chance that your child will have to go to the hospital.
- Do not allow smoking inside your home or car. If you can, quit smoking. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for help from the QuitLine.
- Do not use a wood burning heat stove or a wood fireplace, and avoid campfires.
- Have your child stay indoors when the pollution count is high.
- You can learn about the current air quality in your area from Air Now.
- Do not use air fresheners, perfume, cologne, room spray or hair spray.
- Watch your child's asthma closely whenever they have cold symptoms.
- Make sure your child gets a flu shot every year.
- Have your child wear a clean scarf (or a pulled-up turtle neck) around his or her face.
- Have your child breathe through their nose when outdoors in cold air.
Pollen and outdoor mold
- Keep your child's bedroom windows closed during allergy season.
- Have your child shower and change clothes right away after being outside during high-pollen seasons.
- Talk to your child's medical provider about allergy medicines and saline nasal rinses.
- Scrub with a sponge and white vinegar to kill mold.
- Fix all water leaks and remove standing water.
- Bare floors are best. If you have carpet, vacuum often.
- Make sure your mattresses and box springs have allergen-proof coverings.
- All furry and feathered animals can cause allergic reactions.
- Keep pets out of your child's bedroom at all times.
- Have your child wash his or her hands and change clothes after playing with pets.
Other asthma triggers
- Have your child take his or her quick-reliever medication 10-15 minutes before an activity. This is called pre-treating.
- Teach your child calming methods when he or she shows strong emotions, like getting very angry, scared or sad.
- Show your child how to breathe slowly through the nose and mouth.
If you're worried your child may have asthma, or you're not sure how to reduce the likelihood of their attack, Children's Colorado has prepared the following infographic to answer common questions and guide you through the process.