For most parents of kids with asthma, learning what causes symptoms is the most difficult part of controlling them. By avoiding asthma triggers and making sure your child takes his or her medications as prescribed, you can bring most of your child’s symptoms under control. Many children with asthma become so good at controlling their symptoms that they hardly ever have a serious flare-up.
It’s important to know what triggers your child’s asthma symptoms, and to learn to recognize the signs of an oncoming exacerbation. Teach your kids how to use their asthma medications. Protect your child from mold, pollen, infection, and other asthma triggers. Make sure your child’s school, teachers, and friends’ parents know about your child’s asthma and know what to do if symptoms flare up.
1. Learn What Triggers Your Child’s Asthma Symptoms
Asthma triggers can include a number of things ranging from changes in the weather, to cold air, dust mites, pollen, smoke, perfume, cleaning sprays, mold, mildew, pet dander, and respiratory infections. What triggers asthma symptoms in one child may not trigger them in another. Your child’s asthma triggers may vary depending on the time of the year, and they might change as your child grows.
You shouldn’t depend on how your child’s breathing sounds or what he or she says about his or her breathing to tell you if asthma symptoms are beginning. While your doctor will measure your child’s respiratory capacity in his or her office using a spirometer, you should use a peak flow meter at home to monitor your child for worsening asthma symptoms.
A peak flow meter can help you identify inflammation in your child’s breathing passages up to two or three days before symptoms flare. Before you can begin monitoring your child for impending symptom flare-ups, you’ll need to establish his or her personal respiratory baseline by measuring his or her peak flow over a period of time when your child has few symptoms. Then, you can begin to tell when your child’s symptoms are gradually worsening based on his or her peak flow meter readings.
When your child’s peak flow meter readings indicate that a flare-up is approaching, write it down, and also write down any asthma triggers your child may have been exposed to. If your child has an unexpected flare-up, make a note of any asthma triggers he or she was exposed to. This can help you begin to track your child’s triggers.
2. Learn the Early Warning Signs of a Symptom Flare-Up
Most children exhibit some changes in appearance, mood, or breathing just before asthma symptoms flare. Some complain of a general feeling of malaise or of just feeling “funny.”
Look for and learn to recognize these signs that your child is about to have an asthma attack, and make sure you teach them to your child. Learning the warning signs of an impending attack can help you take steps to prevent a flare-up. As your child grows, he or she can also learn to recognize the physical cues that action is necessary.
3. Eliminate Asthma Triggers
You may not be able to remove every asthma trigger from your child’s environment. Nevertheless, the more triggers you can eliminate, the better you can control your child’s asthma symptoms. Control dust and dust mites by removing carpeting from your home. Eliminate pet dander and fur by keeping pets outdoors or re-homing them. Wash your family’s clothes often. Keep your child inside on days when the pollen count is high or the air quality is poor. Encourage your child to wear a surgical mask when vacuuming or doing other chores that might expose him or her to allergens or asthma triggers. Take steps to protect your child from respiratory infections.
4. Let Others Know About Your Child’s Asthma
Your child’s teachers and school need to know about his or her asthma, what triggers it, and what to do when asthma symptoms occur. The parents of your child’s friends, or any other adults with whom your child will be spending time, should also know how to recognize asthma symptom and what to do when they flare up. If another adult doesn’t seem comfortable with or willing to help your child when his or her asthma symptoms flare up, you shouldn’t trust your child to that person’s care.
5. Teach Your Child How to Use Asthma Medication
Medications like Flovent, Advair, and Singulair can be used to treat and prevent asthma symptoms in children and infants. While you may want to stick to administering your child’s medications yourself when he or she is very young, you should make sure your child knows where to find his or her rescue inhaler and how to use it. As your child grows older, you can begin to teach him or her how to administer his or her own medicine. Make sure your child knows where his or her medicines are kept, how much to take, and how often.
Controlling your child’s asthma symptoms is more than just a matter of handing him some medication. You need to make sure that everyone who cares for your child knows about his or her condition, and that you’re teaching him or her good habits that will help him or her manage asthma symptoms as he or she grows to be an adult.