Wake Forest Pediatrics is proud to be home to a group of expert Asthma Educators skilled in managing asthma symptoms. Asthma is a chronic disease in which the tubes that carry air to the lungs become irritated, swollen, and narrow. This can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness.
Tips for Managing Asthma Symptoms
According to the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), 10-15% of school-aged children in the United States have or have had asthma. That’s why for National Asthma & Allergy Awareness in May, we’ve come up with a list of six tips for managing symptoms in kids.
1. Make an Asthma Action Plan
One of the best ways to make sure you are managing the symptoms of asthma effectively is to make an asthma action plan. This is a written plan with instructions from your child’s doctor that give clear directions on what medications your child needs and when, how to avoid triggers, and how to manage flare-ups. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a guide on how to make an asthma action plan with your child and their doctor and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a printable version you can fill out.
2. Learn the Signs of a Flare-Up
In order to manage the symptoms of asthma in children, you need to know what symptoms indicate that a flare-up is happening. Flare-ups are sometimes called asthma attacks and occur when the airways get more irritated and inflamed than usual and your child’s symptoms get worse.
Learning the signs your child is experiencing a flare-up is important when determining when they need certain medications. Paying attention to how your child was feeling and behaving before a flare-up can also help you be proactive. After a while, you might be able to see a flare-up coming long before it happens so you can prepare and take preventive measures.
3. Identify & Avoid Triggers
Pay attention to things that may lead to flare-ups in your child’s asthma symptoms. Triggers are things that can irritate the air passages and lead to an attack or flare-up. Many children who have asthma also have allergies, so a key to managing asthma symptoms is knowing their allergies and triggers. Common asthma triggers include:
- Dust mites
- Animal dander
- Cigarette smoke
- Air pollution
- Cold or dry air
- Odors in fragrances in sprays and cleaning products
- According to the American Academy of Pediatricians about 80% of people with asthma develop wheezing, tightness in the chest, and coughing during exercise.
Once you know what triggers asthma attacks or makes symptoms worse, you will have an easier time managing asthma symptoms. Take care to help children avoid triggers in all environments they spend time in.
4. Take Medications as Prescribed By the Pediatrician
Many kids need to take medication to help with managing asthma symptoms. Some medications need to be taken every day. These are called long-term control medications. Others are only used on an as-needed basis during a symptom flare-up. These are called quick-relief or fast-acting medicines. Make sure you follow all directions when giving your child any medication.
Your child’s doctor will tell you which medications your child needs, how often they should take them, and when they should take them. Most asthma medications are given with an inhaler or nebulizer so that the medication gets into the lungs. The pediatrician can help you and your child learn how to properly use these devices.
5. Keep Track of Symptoms
Many parents of children with asthma find it useful to keep a diary of their child’s symptoms to keep track of flare-ups, when and what medication was given, and possible triggers. KidsHealth has a good sample asthma diary you can base your own records on. Part of the diary may include measurements of how well your child can blow air out of their lungs. These measurements are taken with a tool called a peak flow meter. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about whether you need a peak flow meter and how to use it.
6. Vaccinate Against the Flu
While getting a flu vaccine won’t alleviate the symptoms of asthma, it is an important part of managing asthma symptoms in the long run. According to the CDC, people with asthma are at a high risk of developing serious complications related to the flu even when they have their symptoms under control. So, one of the best ways to protect a child with asthma during flu season is to get them vaccinated.
Talk to a Pediatrician or Asthma Educator
Wake Forest Pediatric Associates is recognized nationally as an NCQA Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home with Asthma being our primary “Clinically Important Condition.” Our providers follow the NIH (National Institutes of Health) guidelines for asthma management. We recognize the importance of educating the patient and family members on symptoms, triggers, medications, and the home management of asthma.
To learn more or to make an appointment with one of our asthma educators, call our Wake Forest office at 919-556-4779 or our Knightdale office at 919-266-5059 to make an appointment.