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Asthma in Children - Medications

Medicine choices continued...

Long-term medicines sometimes used alone or with other medicines for daily treatment include:

Other medicines may be given in some cases.

  • Anticholinergics (such as ipratropium) may be used for severe asthma attacks.
  • Omalizumab or magnesium sulfate may be used if asthma does not improve with standard treatment. Or your doctor may recommend omalizumab if your child has severe allergic asthma and his or her symptoms aren't relieved by avoiding allergens or taking other medicines.

Medicine treatment for asthma depends on your child's age, his or her type of asthma, and how well the treatment is controlling asthma symptoms.

  • Children up to age 4 are usually treated a little differently than those 5 to 11 years old.
  • The least amount of medicine that controls your child's symptoms is used.
  • The amount of medicine and number of medicines are increased in steps. So if your child's asthma is not controlled at a low dose of one controller medicine, the dose may be increased. Or another medicine may be added.
  • If your child's asthma has been under control for several months at a certain dose of medicine, the dose may be reduced. This can help find the least amount of medicine that will control your child's asthma.
  • Quick-relief medicine is used to treat asthma attacks. But if your child needs to use quick-relief medicine on more than 2 days a week, the amount and number of controller medicines may be changed.

Your child's doctor will work with you and your child to help find the number and dose of medicines that work best.

Concern about medicines and growth

Some parents worry that children who use inhaled steroid (corticosteroid) medicines may not grow as tall as other children. A very small difference in height and growth was found in children using inhaled steroid medicines compared to children not using them.12 And one study showed a very small difference in height [about 0.5 in. (1 cm)] in adults who used inhaled steroid medicines as children compared to adults who did not use these medicines.13 But the use of inhaled steroid medicine has important health benefits for children who have asthma. If you are worried about the effects of asthma medicines on your child, talk with your doctor.

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