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While an asthma diagnosis can be overwhelming, active management of the condition can help kids live healthy lives full of running, sports, and play. You, your child, and your provider are a team. With proper planning, structure, and knowledge, you can help your child live a healthier life with asthma.

Step 1: Know Your Child's Triggers

Every child is different when it comes to asthma flare-ups or events. Step one in creating a better asthma management plan is identifying your child's unique triggers to prevent attacks or recognize them quickly.

Common triggers include:

  • Infection
  • Exercise (especially if asthma is not controlled)
  • Smoke of any type
  • Perfumes
  • Scented lotions, soaps, makeup, and cleaning products
  • Allergens (including furry pets, dust mites, pollen, mold, or even cockroaches)

Step 2: Develop an Asthma Action Plan

Emergencies can and may crop up, and even a severe asthma attack can happen with little warning. In order to act quickly and rationally in response to something scary like an asthma attack, you need to be prepared with a written action plan.

When creating a plan, use a traffic light pattern to take the guesswork out of what to do and when. Assign each color these specific details ahead of time: What medication should I use? What dosage? When do I give it?

Green - GO: No symptoms
Yellow - CAUTION: Onset of colds, coughing and wheezing, when known triggers are present
Red - DANGER: Medications aren't working well, child has increased trouble breathing (including wheezing, coughing, nasal flaring, faster breathing, increased effort to breathe, or retractions, when the skin sucks against the bones of the chest and neck)

Call 911 immediately if your child is in severe distress or his/her skin becomes dusky or blue.

Step 3: Educate Yourself & Your Child

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Every asthma device requires a different set of skills. When you visit your provider, be sure they walk you through a hands-on session with the device you will use at home. Depending on your child, you may use a metered dose inhaler (MDI) or dry powder inhaler (DPI). MDIs always use a chamber or spacer. Babies and young children will use it with a face mask, and those able to hold their breath can use a mouthpiece. This is a learning experience for your child, too. Keep them interested with a breathe-and-hold game, and be sure to correct how they use the inhaler.

Step 4: Identify Empty Inhalers

Make sure your provider orders an inhaler with a counter so you know exactly how many puffs are left in the device. Decide how much time you need to get a refill, and make sure to build in enough time so that you never run out of medicine.

An inhaler needs to be primed if it hasn't been used in weeks. To prime it, puff it into the air a few times before using the medication on your child.

Step 5: Communicate with Your Provider

Talking regularly to your provider is key to the success of your child's asthma management. If the provider suggests a change in environment, make it promptly. Community resources, like home visits provided by insurance companies or other local resources, may be available to help you make these changes. These visits can help you identify spots for improvement that may keep your child healthier. For more asthma management tips, visit http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/service/asthma.

From WebMD

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