Asthma is a respiratory disorder and is one of the most common causes of missed school days in children. This airway condition can disrupt playing, sleeping and other activities of your child.
It can’t be cured, but you can help your child reduce symptoms of this disorder by following an asthma action plan. This asthma action plan is a written plan that you can develop with your child’s doctor to track its symptoms and adjust treatment accordingly.
Asthma treatment can significantly help your child by improving his/her day-to-day breathing, assist in reducing its flare-ups and other problems caused by asthma. Even severe asthma can be kept under control with proper treatment.
Managing your child’s asthma seems to be an overwhelming responsibility, but it can be simplified by following these steps for your child (up to 11 years old).
Learn about asthma:
First, an important part of managing your child’s asthma is to learn what steps to take and when to take them. It’s also important that you understand each part of tracking symptoms & adjusting treatment, how to perform it and what’s its purpose. You, your child’s caretakers and your child need to:
- Understand asthma’s different types of medications and how they work
- Learn how to recognize and record the worsening asthma signs and symptoms
- Know what to do when your child’s asthma gets worse
Track symptoms with a written plan:
Successful management of asthma requires the regular monitoring of the child’s asthma and is primarily done by recording the frequency and severity of the asthma symptoms (coughing (particularly at night), shortness of breath, and wheezing). A written asthma action plan as mentioned earlier can greatly help you in that as it lets you know how well the treatment is working, based on the symptoms of your child. With your child’s healthcare provider, create a written asthma plan that outlines the steps needed to manage your child’s asthma. You and your child’s caretakers, including babysitters, coaches, and teachers, should have a copy of the plan given by your doctor.
The prescribed plan can help you and your child to:
- Track your child’s asthma flare-ups (how often they happen).
- Judge how well the medications are controlling your child’s symptoms
- Note side effects of any medication, such as irritability, shaking or trouble sleeping
- With a peak flow meter check how well your child’s lungs are working
- Measure how much the symptoms of your child affect his daily activities such as sleeping, playing, and doing sports
- Adjusting medications when the symptoms are severe
- Learn and analyze the situation on when to see a doctor or seek emergency care
Some asthma plans use a symptoms questionnaire called the Asthma Control Test to measure asthma severity over the past month while many asthma plans use a “stoplight” system in which the asthma symptoms are divided into 3 zones (green, red and yellow), each corresponds to worsening symptoms. This can help you quickly determine asthma severity and identify signs of an asthma attack.
Control asthma triggers:
Asthma triggers vary from child to child. Avoiding potential trigger is a critical part of managing asthma. Work with your child’s doctor to know how to identify triggers and what steps you can take to help your child avoid them. Common asthma triggers include:
- Allergens such as dust mites or pollen
- Colds or other respiratory infections
- Pet dander
- Cold weather
- Mold and dampness
- Cigarette smoke and other irritants in the air
- Cockroach exposure
- Severe heartburn that comes from gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD
The key to asthma control is to stick to the plan:
Following and updating the asthma action plan of your child is the key to keeping asthma under control. Carefully track the asthma symptoms, and make medication changes for your child as soon as they’re required. If you act swiftly, your child is less likely to have a severe asthmatic attack, and he/she won’t need as much medication to control symptoms.
With careful management of your child’s asthma, he or she would be able to avoid flare-ups and minimize disruptions caused by asthma.
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