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Asthma in Children - Living With Asthma

Avoid upper respiratory infections

Upper respiratory infections, including the common cold, cause 85 out of 100 asthma attacks in young children.11 Basic preventive measures include the following:

  • Avoid contact with other people who are ill. If there is an ill child in the home, separate him or her from other children, if possible.
  • If you have a respiratory infection, such as a cold or the flu, or if you are caring for someone with a respiratory infection, wash your hands before and after caring for this person.
  • Do not smoke. Secondhand smoke irritates the mucous membranes in your child's nose, sinuses, and lungs and increases his or her risk for respiratory infections.
  • Children who have asthma and their family members should get an influenza vaccine (flu shot(What is a PDF document?) or nasal spray vaccine(What is a PDF document?)) every year.

Help your child take medicine

Taking medicines is an important part of asthma treatment. But it can be hard to remember to take them. To help you and your child remember, understand the reasons people don't take their asthma medicines. And then find ways to overcome those obstacles, such as taping notes on the bathroom mirror.

Most medicines for asthma are inhaled. With inhaled medicines, a specific dose of the medicine can be given directly to the bronchial tubes, avoiding or reducing the effects of the medicine on the rest of the body. Delivery systems for inhaled medicines include metered-dose and dry powder inhalers and nebulizers. A metered-dose inhaler (MDI) is usually used by older children, and nebulizers are used most often with infants. For more information, see Medications.

actionset.gif Asthma: Using a Metered-Dose Inhaler
actionset.gif Asthma in Children: Helping a Child Use a Metered-Dose Inhaler and Mask Spacer
actionset.gif Asthma: Using a Dry Powder Inhaler

More tips for managing your child's asthma

To manage your child's asthma:

  • Stay with a daily routine. Make treatment part of normal, daily activities to help your child adjust to the condition and take responsibility for managing treatment. Your child could, for example, get used to taking medicine before brushing his or her teeth.
  • Check your child's symptoms. If your child is old enough to understand the process, teach him or her what symptoms to watch for and how to check the peak expiratory flow. Help your child understand how to follow his or her asthma action plan.
  • Inform others in your child's life about asthma. Inform the principal, school nurse, teachers, and coaches at your child's school that your child has asthma. Give the staff a copy of your child's asthma action plan so that they can help your child to take his or her medicine and will know what to do during an asthma attack. Encourage your child to participate in exercise and sports. Asthma, when well controlled, should not prevent your child from participating in sports and other physical activities.

It is important to treat your child's asthma attacks quickly. If your child does not improve soon after treating an attack, talk with a doctor.

  • During attacks, stay calm and soothe your child. This may help your child relax and breathe more easily.
  • Don't underestimate or overestimate how severe your child's asthma is. It is often hard to know how much breathing difficulty a baby or small child is having. Seek medical care early for babies and small children who have asthma symptoms.

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: January 24, 2014
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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