Helping Your Child Manage Asthma Attacks

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Hansa Bhargava, MD
Kids who have asthma should be empowered and should know about their asthma, starting at an early age. And that's because they may be in circumstances where you might not be around. And I would say that it's probably a good idea to start early.

So even when you are talking to a 4-year-old, it's not a bad time to start talking about asthma. So first of all, the child should know about signs and symptoms of asthma, so whether that's coughing or having trouble breathing, they should know what those signs are and know that they need to get some help.

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The child should know where their medication is, and how to use it, to help them breathe easier. To help a child know how to use a medication, it's a good idea do a practice run. So that will actually empower your child. Have them go through it in front of you, and it'll make him feel better if he needs to use it when you're not around.

Make sure that the rescue medication, which is albuterol, is easily accessible. I recommend that the albuterol should be carried in the backpack as much as possible, so that it goes where your child goes. But different schools have different policies.

And lastly, and very importantly, you want your child to be a self-advocate. So he needs to know that it's OK to call for help, to tell people, and to recognize his own symptoms and let people know about it.

It's important to involve the other people in his life. So that means the school, play dates, friends, coaches, caregivers. All of them should also know that the child has asthma and how to treat the child. But the child needs to be empowered as well.

The more a child or student knows about their illness, the better it is. When they get anxious, their asthma can get worse, so it's really important to tell them to stay calm. Make sure your child knows that it's not something that he can't get over, it's not something that should embarrass him. It's not something that he needs to be sad about. But if he takes the medicine and knows how to treat it, then he's just as powerful as any other child out there.