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Asthma in Children and Infants

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How Is Asthma Treated in Children? continued...

Your child's written Asthma Action Plan is important to the successful control of 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. Also make sure your child's caregiver and school teacher has a copy of the Asthma Action Plan, so they will know how to treat the child's symptoms if she should have an asthma attack away from home.

For more information and for a printable asthma action plan, see WebMD's article on Developing an Asthma Action Plan.

How Do I Give Asthma Drugs if my Child Is a Toddler?

Infants and toddlers may use some of the same type of asthma drugs as older children and adults. Inhaled steroids may be key to managing infants with chronic asthma or wheezing. However, the medications are given differently to children under 4 years of age (such as with an asthma nebulizer and mask), and with lower daily doses.

The latest asthma guidelines recommend a stepwise approach for managing asthma in children up to 4 years of age. This includes the use of quick-relief medications (such as albuterol) for intermittent asthma symptoms. A low-dose of an inhaled steroid, cromolyn, or Singulair is the next step up. Then the intensity of the asthma treatment is focused on controlling their asthma. If the child's asthma is controlled for at least three months, your child's doctor may decrease the medication or "step down" the asthma treatment. Consult with your asthma specialist for exact medications and dosages.

Depending on your young child's age, you may use inhaled asthma drugs or liquid medications delivered with an asthma nebulizer. A nebulizer delivers asthma medications by changing them from a liquid to a mist. As a mist, your child will breathe the medications through a face mask. These breathing treatments usually take about 10-15 minutes and may be given up to four times a day. Your child's doctor will tell you how often to give your child breathing treatments.

Depending on their age, 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. This allows your child to breathe the medication into his lungs at his own pace. Talk with your child's doctor about your child using an MDI with a spacer.

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