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Asthma Health Center

Treating Asthma in Children

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Step 3 -- Taking Medications As Prescribed

Developing an effective medication plan to control a child's asthma can take a little time and trial and error. Different drugs work more or less effectively for different kinds of asthma, and some drug combinations work well for some children but not for others.

There are two main categories of asthma medications: quick-relief medications (rescue medications) and long-term preventive drugs (controller medications) (see Treatment of Asthma). Asthma drugs treat both symptoms and causes, so they effectively control asthma for nearly every child. Over-the-counter drugs, home remedies, and herbal combinations are not substitutes for prescription asthma medication because they cannot reverse airway obstruction and they do not address the cause of many asthma flares. As a result, asthma is not controlled by these nonprescription drugs, and it may even become worse with their usage.

Step 4 -- Controlling Flare-Ups by Following Your Asthma Action Plan

When you follow the first three steps of asthma control, your child will have fewer asthma symptoms and flare-ups. Remember that any child with asthma can still have an occasional asthma attack, particularly during the learning period between diagnosis and control or after exposure to a very strong or new trigger. With proper patient education, having the right medications on hand, and keen observation, families can learn to control most minor asthma flare-ups by starting treatment early, which will mean less emergency room visits and fewer admissions, if any, to the hospital.

Your doctor should provide a written step-by-step plan outlining exactly what to do if a child has a flare-up. The plan is different for each child. Over time, families learn to recognize when to start treatment early and when to call the doctor for help.

Step 5 -- Learning More About Asthma

Learning more about asthma and asthma treatment is the secret to successful asthma control. There are several organizations you can contact for information, videos, books, educational video games, and pamphlets.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on March 16, 2013
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