Asthma Treatments for Children
How Is Asthma Treated In Children?
Based on your child's history and the severity of asthma, his or her doctor will develop a care plan, called an "asthma action plan." The asthma action plan describes when and how your child should use asthma medications, what to do when asthma gets worse, and when to seek emergency care for your child. Make sure you understand this plan and ask your child's doctor any questions you may have.
Your child's asthma action plan is important to successfully controlling his or her asthma. Keep it handy to remind you of your child's daily asthma management plan, as well as to guide you when your child develops asthma symptoms.
In addition to following your child's asthma action plan, you want to make sure exposure to asthma triggers is limited, and preferably avoided.
What Asthma Drugs Can Children Take?
If an infant or child is experiencing symptoms of asthma requiring treatment with a bronchodilator medication more than twice a week, most doctors recommend daily anti-inflammatory drugs.
Most asthma medications that are given to adults and older children can also safely be prescribed to toddlers and younger children. Drugs that are approved for younger children are given in doses adjusted for their age and weight. Specifically, children 4 years and up may be prescribed the asthma inhaler Advair. Advair treats both airway inflammation and bronchoconstriction. Another anti-inflammatory medication called Pulmicort Respules has been approved for children ages 12 months and up. In the case of inhaled drugs, a different delivery device based on the child's age and ability may be required. (Many children aren't able to coordinate their breathing well enough to use a standard inhaler.)
How Do I Give my Child Asthma Medication?
You will probably give your child asthma medications using a home nebulizer, also known as a breathing machine. A nebulizer delivers asthma drugs, usually bronchodilators, by changing them from a liquid to a mist. Your child gets the drug by breathing it in through a facemask. These breathing treatments usually take about 10-15 minutes and are given several times a day. Your child's doctor will tell you how often to give your child breathing treatments, based on the severity of his or her asthma.
Your child may be able to use a metered dose inhaler (MDI) with a spacer. A spacer is a chamber that attaches to the MDI and holds the burst of medication. Talk with your child's doctor to see if an MDI with spacer is right for your child.
How Do I Know When my Child's Asthma Is Well Controlled?
You know your child's asthma is well controlled if, with medication, your child:
- Lives an active, normal life
- Has few troublesome symptoms
- Attends school every day
- Performs daily activities without difficulty
- Has few urgent visits to the doctor, emergency room, or hospital for asthma
- Has few asthma drug side effects
By learning about asthma and how it can be controlled, you take an important step toward managing your child's disease. We encourage you to work closely with your child's asthma care team to learn all you can about asthma, how to avoid triggers, what medications do, and how to correctly give them. With proper care, your child can live free of asthma symptoms and maintain a normal, healthy lifestyle.