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Your Child’s Asthma: Taking Control

Asthma is a long-term (chronic) disease of the airways in the lungs. It can’t be cured, but it can be controlled. Get to know your child’s asthma triggers and symptoms, and understand your child’s treatment plan.

Healthcare provider showing girl how to use metered-dose inhaler with spacer and mask. Woman standing nearby.

The benefits of control

A child whose asthma is in control can do all of the things other children do. They will:

  • Be able to play with other kids and take part in sports

  • Be able to sleep well—this means more energy for school and play

  • Miss fewer school days.

Asthma symptoms

Some children have symptoms often (persistent asthma). Others have symptoms once in a while (intermittent asthma). Know your child’s pattern of symptoms.

You should have an Asthma Action Plan that tells you what actions to take based on your child's symptoms. If you don't have an Asthma Action Plan, talk with your child’s healthcare provider about getting one. If you do have an Asthma Action Plan, review it with the provider at appointments to be sure it is up-to-date.

Mild asthma symptoms

Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about what to do when any of these symptoms occur:

  • Coughing, especially at night

  • Getting tired or out of breath easily

  • Wheezing—this is a whistling noise when breathing out

  • Chest tightness

  • Fast breathing when at rest

Severe asthma symptoms

Call your child’s healthcare provider right away if your child has any of these symptoms:

  • Very fast or hard breathing

  • The skin is pulled in between the ribs and above and below the breastbone (chest retractions) when breathing

  • If you or your child monitor asthma with peak flow readings, a peak flow less than 50% of your child's personal best

Call 911

Call 911 right away if your child has any of these symptoms:

  • Can't walk or talk

  • Lips or fingers turning blue

  • Your child is very short of breath and seems in severe distress

Is your child’s asthma controlled?

If you answer yes to any of the questions below, your child’s asthma may not be in control. Work with your child’s healthcare provider to make changes to your child's treatment plan. Discuss any problems that make it hard for you or your child to stick to the plan.

  • Does your child need to use a quick-relief inhaler more than 2 times a week (other than before exercise)?

  • Does your child wake up at night with symptoms more than 2 times a month?

  • Does your child have trouble doing regular, daily activities more than twice per week?

What you can do

  • Make sure your child has an Asthma Action Plan. Review it with your child’s healthcare provider.

  • Understand your child’s treatment plan.

  • Know how to use each of your child’s medicines.

  • Know what triggers make your child’s asthma worse and how to help your child control or stay away from them.

  • Know your child's flare-up symptoms. Teach your child how to get help when a flare-up happens. Be sure daycare providers, teachers and other school staff, and any other caregivers know how to treat a flare-up.

Online Medical Reviewer: Amy Finke RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Deborah Pedersen MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals BSN MPH
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2022
© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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