Asthma in Children - Treatment Overview
Although your child's
asthma cannot be cured, you can manage the symptoms
with medicines and other measures.
It's very important to treat your child's asthma. Although he or she may feel
good most of the time, even mild asthma may cause changes
to the airways that speed up and make worse the natural decrease in lung
function that occurs as we age.
Your child can expect to live a normal life by following his or her asthma action plan. Asthma symptoms
that are not controlled can limit your child's activities and lower his or her
quality of life.
Know the goals of treatment
By following your child's treatment plan, you can help your child meet these
- Increase lung function by treating the
inflammation in the lungs.
- Decrease the
severity, frequency, and duration of
asthma attacks by avoiding
- Treat acute attacks as they
- Use quick-relief medicine less (ideally on not more than 2
days a week).
- Have a full life—the ability to
participate in all daily activities, including school, exercise, and
recreation—by preventing and managing symptoms.
- Sleep through the
night undisturbed by asthma symptoms.
- Asthma: Taking Charge of Your Asthma
Babies and small children need early treatment for asthma
symptoms to prevent severe breathing problems. They may have more serious
problems than adults because their bronchial tubes are smaller.
Follow your child's action plan
An asthma action plan tells you which medicines your
child takes every day and how to treat
asthma attacks. It may include an
asthma diary where your child records
peak expiratory flow (PEF) or symptoms or both. You also can list the cause of the symptoms and the
quick-relief medicine used for asthma symptoms. This helps you to identify
triggers that can be changed or avoided and to be aware of your child's symptoms. A plan also helps you make quick decisions about medicine and treatment.
- Asthma: Using an Asthma Action Plan
See an example of an asthma action plan(What is a PDF document?).
Your child will take several types of medicines to control his or her asthma and to prevent attacks. These include:
- Inhaled steroid (corticosteroid) medicines. These are for long-term treatment of asthma and are usually taken every day. They reduce inflammation in your child's airways .
- Short-acting beta2-agonists and anticholinergics (quick-relief medicines). These medicines are used
for asthma attacks. They relax the airways, allowing your child to breathe
- Oral or injected steroid medicines. These may be used to get your child's
asthma under control before he or she starts taking daily medicine. In the
future, your child also may take these medicines to treat asthma attacks.
You and your child will learn how to use a metered-dose
inhaler (MDI) or dry powder inhaler (DPI). An MDI
delivers inhaled medicines directly to the lungs. Most doctors recommend using a
spacer with an MDI. For more information, see Medications.
- Breathing Problems: Using a Metered-Dose Inhaler
- Asthma in Children: Helping a Child Use a Metered-Dose Inhaler and Mask Spacer
- Breathing Problems: Using a Dry Powder Inhaler