Keeping Your Asthmatic Child Healthy: Tips for Parents

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It is estimated that 6.3 million children suffer from asthma. It is the leading cause of school absenteeism. Asthma is caused by an inflammation of the airways. A variety of symptoms including shortness of breath, wheezing and possibly death may occur
during an acute attack. An asthma attack can be triggered by multiple sources such as allergies, exercise, hot or cold weather, odors and smoke. Because of the unpredictable nature of asthma, emergency medications must be available to the child at all times. Asthma medications reduce the inflammatory process thereby, improving breathing. A young asthmatic must be taught to take asthma seriously, and tell an adult when they are experiencing an attack and need their emergency medication.

Adolescence is a time when children value peer conformity. They may view their asthma as making them “different”, therefore unacceptable to their peers. A parent can side-step this feeling by encouraging their children to educate themselves on asthma and learn what triggers their attacks. By learning their “triggers”, the child can avoid situations known to induce an asthma attack. Children should be allowed to express their cares and concerns related to their asthma. By encouraging young asthmatics to take responsibility in their own asthma treatment, a sense of normalcy and self confidence is achieved. In return, the asthmatic will be more compliant with their treatment.

If your child is diagnosed with asthma it is sometimes difficult to know what questions to ask your healthcare provider. Building a maintaining open communication with your healthcare provider is essential. Having a list of questions will keep you on-track. Below is a list that you can take with you to the physician’s office:

What is asthma?
What are the symptoms of asthma?
What treatment is available?
What do I do during an asthma attack?
What can I do to decrease my child’s asthma?
How will asthma affect my child’s health? Long-term and short-term?
How will I know if my child is having an emergency situation?
What activities can my child participate in?
What medications are available to treat my child? How do I use them?
What are the side effects of treatment?
What is an asthma action plan?
What is a peak flow meter and what do readings mean?
What are asthma triggers and how do I avoid them?
Does asthma ever go away? Does my child need further testing?
What can I do as a parent, to ensure that my child stays as healthy as possible?

The relationship that you build with your child’s healthcare provider is important. Being proactively involved in your child’s healthcare is first step to ensure that your child receives the best care possible.