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Asthma in Children - Overview

How is it treated?

There are two parts to treating asthma, and they are outlined in the asthma action plan. The goals are to:

  • Control asthma over the long term. The asthma action plan tells you which medicine your child needs to take. It also helps you track your child's symptoms and know how well the treatment is working. Many children take controller medicine—usually an inhaled corticosteroid—every day. Taking controller medicine every day helps reduce the swelling of the airways and helps prevent attacks.
  • Treat asthma attacks when they occur. The asthma action plan tells you what to do when your child has an asthma attack. It helps you identify triggers that can cause your child's attacks. Your child will use quick-relief medicine, such as albuterol, during an attack.

If your child needs to use quick-relief medicine on more than 2 days a week, talk to your doctor. This is a sign that your child's asthma is not controlled and can cause problems.

Asthma attacks can be life-threatening, but you may be able to prevent them if you follow a plan. Your doctor can teach you the skills you need to use your child's asthma action plan.

What else can you do to help your child's asthma?

You can prevent some asthma attacks by helping your child avoid those things that cause them. These are called triggers. A trigger can be:

  • Irritants in the air, such as cigarette smoke or other air pollution. Do not expose your child to tobacco smoke.
  • Things your child is allergic to, such as pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches, or pollen. Taking certain types of allergy medicines may help your child.
  • Exercise. Ask your doctor about using an inhaler before exercise if this is a trigger for your child's asthma.
  • Other things like dry, cold air; an infection; or some medicines, such as aspirin. Try not to have your child exercise outside when it is cold and dry. Talk to your doctor about vaccines to prevent some infections. And ask about what medicines your child should avoid.

It can be scary when your child has an asthma attack. You may feel helpless, but having an asthma action plan will help you know what to do during an attack. An asthma attack may be bad enough to need urgent medical care. But in most cases you can take care of symptoms at home if you have a good asthma action plan.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 14, 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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