6 Questions to Ask Your Child’s Doctor about Asthma

6 Questions to Ask Your Child’s Doctor about Asthma

6 Questions to Ask Your Child’s Doctor about Asthma

When your child has asthma, you and your doctor are part of the team that helps you care for your child. Before you can offer the right kind of care, you need to confirm that your child does, in fact, have asthma.

Coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath can all be caused by asthma, but they can be caused by other conditions, too. It’s critical to get a proper diagnosis. If your child is diagnosed with asthma, you’ll need to talk with your doctor. Here are some questions to start the conversation:

  1. What medicine does my child need?
    Your child’s doctor will probably give you a “rescue” medicine for an asthma attack. A controller medicine may also be prescribed. A controller medication should be used daily to prevent flare-ups, even on days when your child feels well and doesn’t have any symptoms. Rescue and controller medications can be given two ways: with an inhaler or via breathing treatments using a nebulizer. Both forms are equally effective. Talk to your doctor about what drugs your child will need, and what may be the best way to take them. Make sure you get clear instructions on how to use the medicine. 
  2. How do I manage my child’s asthma?
    The doctor should also provide guidance on how to take care of your child’s asthma. Ask for a written Asthma Action Plan. The plan will outline:

    • Daily steps to help control asthma
    • What to do if asthma symptoms grow worse
    • Ways to help your child during a severe asthma attack

    The Asthma Action Plan can be shared with your child’s school nurse, teachers, team coaches, family members and anyone who regularly spends time with your child.

  1. Could our home be making my child sick?
    Things in your home could trigger your child’s asthma or make it worse. A doctor can talk with you about asthma triggers and suggest changes that may be needed. You can use a Triggers Checklist to find ways to make your home a healthier place for your child. 
  2. When do you want to see us again?
    You generally should expect to visit the doctor at least twice a year for a check of your child’s condition and medicine. If you are still working to get your child’s asthma under control, more frequent visits may be necessary. Ask your doctor about any symptoms or issues you should call  about between visits. Include that information in your Asthma Action Plan. 
  3. What about a flu shot?
    It’s recommended that all children older than six months – especially those with asthma get vaccinated against influenza every year. Talk to your doctor about the best timing.
  4. Can my child play sports?
    If your child’s asthma is under control, playing sports and exercising shouldn’t be a problem. Check with your child’s doctor before he or she starts any new physical activity. And let the doctor know if your child has an asthma attack during or after the activity. Adjustments to your child’s medications and asthma action plan may be necessary.

Having a regular doctor manage your child’s asthma is key to keeping asthma under control and your child out of the emergency department. If you haven’t already, take the first step by scheduling an appointment with a doctor.

Sources: The Impact of Asthma, leaving site icon American Lung Association 2020; Asthma in Children, leaving site icon MedlinePlus 2022; Asthma in Schools: Basics for Parents, leaving site icon American Lung Association, 2020; Asthma Quality Improvement: Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma, leaving site icon American Lung Association, 2022.

Originally published: 6/21/2016; Revised 2020, 2022