Healthy Living with Asthma

Healthy Living with Asthma

Healthy Living with Asthma

Your child has asthma. Now what? First, know you’re not alone. Asthma is the most common long-term disease in children.

Millions of families are working to keep their children’s asthma under control. Controlling asthma helps your child feel better and miss fewer school days. By controlling asthma, your child may enjoy a more normal, active life by day, and your child may sleep much better at night. 

Manage asthma triggers

One key to good asthma control is managing your child’s triggers. These are things that may set off asthma symptoms or make them worse. Triggers vary from child to child. Common triggers include: 

  • Cold, dry air 
  • Physical activity 
  • Allergies (dust mites, furry animals, mold, and pollen) 
  • Certain infections (for example, colds and sinus infections) 
  • Strong odors 

Work with your child’s doctor to find your child’s triggers. Talk about ways to handle them. For example

  • Furry animals. Ban dogs and cats from your child’s bedroom. If your child has a pet hamster, rabbit or guinea pig, have someone else clean the cage. 
  • Dust mites. These microscopic bugs thrive in mattresses, pillows, bedding and other cloth items. Encase mattresses and pillows in allergy-proof covers. Wash bedding weekly in hot water. 
  • Indoor mold. Mold grows in damp areas. Scrub mold from hard surfaces with water and detergent. Dry the area completely. Repair and seal any leaks. 

Use asthma medication 

Another key to success is making sure your child takes asthma medication as directed. Some asthma medications provide quick relief when your child has a flare-up. Others help keep symptoms from ever starting.

Asthma medication helps reduce coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Talk with your child’s doctor about when and how to give it. If your child has an inhaler, ask the doctor to show you and your child how to use it correctly.

Reminder: Check expiration dates 

Medication may change chemically over time. It could stop working or even become unsafe. The start of a new year is a good time to check expiration dates on your child’s medication. Follow label instructions to dispose of outdated medication properly. 

Keep up the good work 

Controlling asthma triggers is an ongoing job. Keep following your child’s treatment plan, even when your child is symptom-free. Otherwise, the symptoms might come back. 

Deal with emotional triggers 

Anxiety and stress may make asthma symptoms worse. Teach your child how to soothe such feelings. Share these tips: 

  • Calm down. Take some deep breaths to relax. 
  • Get moving. Physical activity helps ease anxiety and stress. If exercise triggers asthma symptoms, talk with your child’s doctor. The doctor may suggest using an inhaler before exercise to prevent symptoms. 
  • Talk about it. Discuss fears and worries with a trusted adult. Sometimes, just stating a fear out loud makes it seem less powerful. 

Being there for your child 

Let your child know you’re available to talk about problems and concerns. To start a conversation, share a thought or feeling of your own rather than asking a question first. If your child shares something in return, listen very closely. 

Raise an asthma-wise child 

Children feel like they have more control when they help manage their asthma. Talk with your child’s doctor about how much responsibility your child is ready to take. Children as young as 3 may be able to use an inhaler leaving site icon with adult supervision. Some school-aged children may be ready to carry an inhaler and use it as needed. Children may also gradually become more involved in managing their asthma triggers. 

To learn more about Asthma and the Taking on Asthma initiative, visit our website.

Source: Asthma inhalers: Which one's right for you?, leaving site icon Mayo Clinic

Originally published: June 9, 2016