Asthma is a common childhood disease that can cause wheezing, difficulty breathing and coughing. While we still do not know what causes asthma, we do know that it is a hypersensitivity of the lungs and is related to allergies and eczema. Over a lifetime, asthma can cause permanent lung damage. Every year, about one in 20 children with asthma are hospitalized for asthma.
While there is no cure for asthma, there has been significant progress made in controlling asthma symptoms. If managed properly through medication and other treatments, children with asthma experience fewer asthma attacks, fewer missed school days or other activities, and less hospital visits. The CDC recommends helping children learn to control their asthma by developing an asthma action plan. To develop an asthma action plan with your own child, use the free template provided by the CDC here.
Managing childhood asthma
Parents and caregivers can help manage asthma by:
- Avoiding asthma triggers like tobacco smoke, pet hair and air pollution.
- Learning about asthma and how to recognize the warning signs of an asthma attack.
- Making sure children use their asthma controller medicine as prescribed (for those children using a daily controller medicine).
- Communicating with schools, friends and family, and health care providers about the child’s asthma action plan and symptoms.
Doctors, nurses and other health care providers can:
- Teach children and parents to manage asthma by using a personalized action plan shared with school staff and other caregivers.
- Work with community health workers, pharmacists and others to ensure that children with asthma receive needed services.
- Work with children and parents to assess each child’s asthma, prescribe appropriate medicines and determine whether home health visits would help prevent attacks.
When is asthma well controlled?
The CDC shares that childhood asthma is considered well controlled if:
- Asthma symptoms occur no more than two days a week, and symptoms don’t disrupt sleep more than one or two nights a month.
- All normal activities can be completed.
- There is no more than one asthma attack a year that requires taking a pill or liquid for several days to treat the attack.
- Quick-relief medicines are needed no more than two days a week.
Connecting with care
In addition to the steps above to provide a positive environment for managing asthma, it is important to regularly schedule appointments with your medical provider to make sure your child’s asthma is properly managed and the best medications are used. For additional info, please check out these resources from Healthy Children.