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Asthma: How to Overcome Treatment Obstacles - Topic Overview

Asthma is a long-lasting (chronic) disease that may last throughout your life—you must treat it long term. But following a management plan can be difficult over a long period of time.

Here are some reasons you may not follow your management plan. Possible solutions are listed too.

Asthma management plan problems
Reasons you might not follow plan Possible solutions

You may not fully understand the seriousness of asthma. Some adults who have mild symptoms may not feel that treatment is needed.

  • Learn all you can about asthma. Even if you have no symptoms, asthma can hurt your lungs, possibly leading to worse symptoms later in life.
  • Understand the benefits of treating asthma and the risks of not treating asthma.

It may be difficult to visit or communicate with a doctor or pharmacist. This could be because of distance and a lack of transportation, cultural or language barriers, a lack of trust, or miscommunication. All of this can lead to little guidance about what to do.

  • Work with others to ensure that you have transportation to your doctor and pharmacy.
  • Work with your doctor to develop personal goals and expectations for your treatment.
  • If you do not understand something, ask about it.
  • If you do not feel comfortable with your doctor, consider looking for a new one.
  • If language is a problem, have a friend help you or get in touch with a social organization.

Often it is hard for a child to follow the management plan, because the child must rely on the help of family members and other people.

Asthma management plan problems for children
Reasons children might not follow plan Possible solutions

In single-parent families, a parent may not always be available to help the child remember to take medicine. It also may mean that a child has sole responsibility for treatment.

  • Talk to friends, neighbors, and school administrators about your child's asthma and what they can do to help.
  • Help your child understand what he or she can do for the condition.

The child may have many caregivers, making it hard for the child to be on a regular schedule.

  • Print a calendar with the child's schedule and who is responsible on each day. Be sure to give a copy of the schedule to all caregivers.
  • Be proactive about calling other caregivers to be sure everyone understands what has to be done.
  • Teach your child to be proactive in working with caregivers and understanding what he or she has to do for the condition.

A shortage of school health professionals may make it hard to help the child remember to take medicine or to take it correctly.

  • Contact the school principal, other administrators, teachers, counselors, and coaches. Make sure they all understand that your child has asthma and how important it is that he or she takes the medicine.
  • If possible, find one person in the school who will see that your child takes his or her medicine.
  • Talk to your child's friends to see if they can help remind your child to take the medicine.

Oral corticosteroid syrup (such as methylprednisolone) has a bitter taste, and some young children will vomit or refuse their medicine.

  • Work with your doctor. There may be other brands or other medicines your child can take.

You may be concerned about the effect of inhaled steroids on your child's growth or health.

Children or teens may be embarrassed about having to take asthma medicine. They may feel different from their friends and peers.

  • Help your child remember that asthma is only one part of life.
  • If possible, allow your child to meet with his or her doctor alone. This will encourage your child to become involved in his or her own care.
  • Work out a daily management plan that allows your child to continue daily activities, especially sports. Exercise is important for maintaining strong lungs and overall health.
  • Encourage your child to meet others who have asthma so they can support each other.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: February 22, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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