Asthma Control: It’s All in the Details

Published 11:16 am Thursday, November 1, 2012

(NewsUSA) – Playing catch is something many kids do without a second thought. But if your child has asthma, catching a breath without coughing, wheezing or feeling tight in the chest may be harder to do than catching a ball.

To help your child breathe more easily the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommends that you work with your child’s doctor and ask him or her to take these key actions:

* Tell you what medication your child needs to control symptoms. Inhaled corticosteroids, taken daily, are the most effective medication for reducing the inflammation that causes asthma symptoms in people who have persistent asthma.

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* Give you a written asthma action plan that spells out what to do every day to control your child’s asthma and how to handle symptoms or asthma attacks.

* Check your child’s asthma control at regular visits and adjust medication as needed to keep your child’s asthma in control.

* Schedule regular follow-up visits (at least every six months).

* Work with you to identify your child’s asthma triggers, like tobacco smoke, dust or pet dander, and help your child avoid them.

* Ask before you leave the doctor’s office or pharmacy for someone to show you and your child how to use each prescribed medication and device correctly.

“When at school, at home or elsewhere, children need to know how to use their asthma devices properly so that their medications can have the greatest benefit,” said James P. Kiley, Ph.D., director of the NHLBI Division of Lung Diseases.

A recent study of 8- to 16-year-olds with asthma revealed that most did not perform all of the key steps when using a metered-dose inhaler, dry powder inhaler, peak flow meter or other asthma device.

“We found that very simple steps were being missed,” said Betsy Sleath, Ph.D., the study’s lead author. She added that parents and patients shouldn’t be shy about asking for help. Their doctor, nurse, asthma educator, or pharmacist can help by showing the proper technique, giving feedback on a patient’s technique and answering questions.

Controlling asthma is a team effort. By working together, doctors, nurses, parents and other caregivers can help children with asthma breathe more easily and play ball like the pros! Visit for these publications from the NHLBI’s National Asthma Education and Prevention Program: So You Have Asthma, Asthma & Physical Activity in the School, and a sample Asthma Action Plan.