Having young children with asthma can be scary for parents and the children. There are a few things you can do to ease your child’s fears about asthma, including teaching your child the signs and symptoms, manage it medically, and creating a healthy environment.
Manage Asthma Medically
Talk with your doctor about developing an asthma action plan. Your doctor can clearly direct you on which medications to give your child and when, help identify triggers in your home, and guidance on what requires professional care.
Your doctor may also provide a tool called a peak flow meter. This is a small device used to measure how well your child’s lungs are working by measuring how much air they can quickly exhale. A peak flow meter can help you gauge how severe your child’s symptoms are, and help monitor possible worsening symptoms.
Your doctor may also refer you and your child to an asthma specialist. A specialist can fine-tune medications to best treat your child’s asthma without significant side effects. Your child may be prescribed medications to take daily in addition to quick-relief medications used in emergency.
A simple preventative strategy is vaccinating your child against the flu every year. Children with asthma are much more likely to develop complications of the flu.
Help Your Child Learn About Asthma
After your child has experienced a few flare-ups, you and your child may become more familiar at spotting flare-ups before they happen. In the hours leading up to an asthma flare-up, your child may complain of “feeling funny,” might experience a shift in mood, or look or breathe differently.
Typical asthma symptoms are wheezing, trouble breathing, coughing, chest pain, and loss of interest in physical activities. Symptoms that require professional intervention include significant trouble breathing, coughing or wheezing without improvement, little or no improvement after using a quick-relief inhaler, or very low readings on a peak flow meter.
Keep an asthma diary with your child that tracks the symptoms. Track peak flow readings, how often medication was needed, how well medication controlled the symptoms, and any potential side effects. Getting in the routine of checking in on symptoms helps predict and prepare for flare-ups and can provide valuable feedback to your pediatrician.
When your child is ready, empower your child to treat their flare-ups by having them carry their own inhaler.
Create a Lung-Friendly Environment
Your family learning your child’s asthma triggers can go a long way in managing your child’s health. While not every person’s triggers are the same, common triggers for flare-ups include allergens like pollen, weather changes, smoke, infections like the common cold, and other airborne irritants.
Managing your home’s air quality can be a major defense against asthma flare-ups in your child. A quality HVAC system and air filter remove harmful particles from the air your family is breathing, lessening your asthmatic child’s exposure to triggers. A healthy HVAC system can also reduce the impact of weather changes on your child’s asthma.
In the fight against asthma, work with your pediatrician for a diagnosis and treatment plan, and help your child learn about symptoms and triggers. Don’t forget to prepare your home, it may be just as important as preparing your child.