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For Parents: Taking Control of Your Child’s Asthma

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

Young girl sitting up in bed coughing.

The Benefits of Control

A child whose asthma is in control can do all of the things other kids do. He or she can play with other kids and take part in sports. When asthma is under control, your child sleeps better. This means more energy for school and play. And with fewer missed school days, you’ll miss fewer workdays. When asthma is under control, it doesn’t disrupt family life. Most important, controlling asthma cuts the risk that the child will die of asthma. This means greater safety for your child, and peace of mind for you. Controlling asthma does take some work, but the results are worth it.

Asthma Symptoms

Some asthma symptoms, like wheezing or struggling to breathe, are hard to miss. But coughing or tiredness can also be due to asthma. Some children have symptoms often (persistent asthma). Others have symptoms once in a while (intermittent asthma). Keep in mind your child’s pattern of symptoms.

Mild to Moderate Asthma Symptoms

Discuss care with your child’s healthcare provider.

  • Coughing, especially at night

  • Getting tired or out of breath easily

  • Wheezing (a whistling noise when breathing out)

  • Chest tightness

  • Fast breathing when at rest

Severe Asthma Symptoms

Call 911 right away if you see any of these!

  • Very fast or hard breathing

  • Sucking in between the ribs and above and below the breastbone (retractions)

  • Being unable to walk or talk

  • Lips or fingers turning blue

  • Peak flow is less than 50 percent of the child's personal best

Is Your Child’s Asthma in Control?

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

  • Does your child need to use his 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?

What You Can Do

  • Understand your child’s treatment plan.

  • Understand each of your child’s medications and how to use each one.

  • Know what makes your child’s asthma worse and help your child control or avoid these triggers.

  • Spot the symptoms of a flare-up. Teach your child how to get help when a flare-up occurs. Be sure daycare providers, the school nurse, and babysitters know how to treat a flare-up.

© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.