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Asthma in Children - Treatment Overview

Go to checkups

Your child needs to monitor his or her asthma and have regular checkups to keep asthma under control and to ensure the right treatment. The frequency of checkups depends on how your child's asthma is classified.

Monitor peak flow

It is easy to underestimate the severity of your child's symptoms. You may not notice them until his or her lungs are functioning at 50% of the personal best peak expiratory flow (PEF).

Measuring PEF is a way to keep track of asthma symptoms at home. It can help you and your child know when lung function is becoming worse before it drops to a dangerously low level. This is done with a peak flow meter.

actionset.gif Asthma: Measuring Peak Flow

Control triggers

Being around triggers increases symptoms. Try to avoid situations that expose your child to irritants (such as smoke or air pollution) or substances (such as animal dander) to which he or she may be allergic. Using an air filter machine in your house reduces smoke and other particles in the air, which can help prevent asthma symptoms in children.9

actionset.gif Asthma: Identifying Your Triggers

Get help for special concerns

Special things to think about in treating asthma include:

  • Managing exercise-induced asthma. Exercise often causes asthma symptoms. Steps you and your child can take to reduce the risk of this include using medicine immediately before exercising.
  • Managing asthma before surgery. Children with moderate to severe asthma are at higher risk of having problems during and after surgery than children who do not have asthma. Before any surgery is done, make sure your child's surgeon knows that your child has asthma.
  • Taking care of other health problems. If your child also has other health problems, such as inflammation and infection of the sinuses (sinusitis) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), he or she will need treatment for those conditions.

Know what to do if asthma gets worse

If your child's asthma is not improving, talk with your doctor and:

  • Review your child's asthma diary to see if he or she has a new or previously unidentified trigger, such as animal dander. Talk to your doctor about how best to avoid triggers.
  • Review your child's medicines to be sure he or she is using the right ones and using them correctly.
  • Review your child's asthma action plan to be sure it is still right for his or her condition.
  • Find out whether your child has a condition with symptoms similar to asthma, such as sinusitis.

If your child's medicine is not working to control airway inflammation, your doctor will first check to see whether your child is using the inhaler correctly. If your child is using it correctly, your doctor may increase the dosage, switch to another medicine, or add a medicine to the existing treatment.

If your child's asthma does not improve with treatment, he or she may require more treatment, including larger doses of corticosteroids or other medicines. An asthma specialist typically prescribes these medicines.

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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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