Asthma is a common, chronic respiratory condition that makes it tough to breathe due to inflammation (swelling and excess mucus build-up in the airways) and airway constriction (tightening of the muscles surrounding the airways). With the school year in full swing and the winter season up ahead, it’s more important than ever to know how to stay on top of your child’s asthma care and management. At the IMPACT DC Asthma Clinic, our team of asthma educators and physicians team up to provide families with personalized tools, education and resources to best manage their child’s asthma. We know the winter season can bring asthma triggers like cold air, changes in weather and respiratory illness, but by following the tips below you can make sure your child is well equipped to tackle the chillier months with well-controlled asthma!

How can you tell if your child’s asthma is well-controlled?

As a rule of thumb, you should consider the severity and frequency of your child’s asthma symptoms as these may indicate whether adjustments should be made to their medication plan. Read through the following questions to see if your child might require better control of their asthma.

  • During the daytime, does your child have more than 2 days per week of asthma symptoms? Symptoms could include any coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or chest pain and tightness.
  • Does your child have more than two nights per month of asthma symptoms? This could mean that they have trouble sleeping due to shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing or demonstrate fatigue during the day due to poor sleep.
  • Does your child have trouble breathing that hampers their ability to exercise or play? Are they able to keep up with their peers during gym class? If not, this could be a sign that their asthma is not well controlled.
  • Does your child need to use their quick relief inhaler more than two times per week? This does not include pre-exercise use of their inhaler if prescribed by their doctor.
  • Has your child had two or more doses of oral steroids in the last year for an asthma flare-up? These medications could include dexamethasone, prednisone and/or prednisolone.

If you answered yes to one of more of the above questions, it could be time for a visit to the doctor’s office to discuss these symptoms and consider stepping up your child’s asthma therapy. We typically recommend seeing your pediatrician every 3-4 months for reassessment.

How can you help make sure your child’s asthma is well-controlled?

  • Administer medications daily. If your child is on any daily inhaler or asthma medication, make sure they receive their prescribed doses every single day. Daily asthma medications help maintain strong and healthy lungs, so it’s important that your child receives their medications no matter what, even if they have been feeling well.
  • Identify and manage asthma symptoms early. At the first sign of a cough, cold, wheeze or chest tightness, start giving your child their quick relief inhaler as per instructions on the Yellow Zone of their Asthma Action Plan. This can stop symptoms early and help avoid a trip to the pediatrician or emergency department. Don’t have an Asthma Action Plan? Schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician or the IMPACT DC Asthma Clinic.
  • See your child’s pediatrician regularly. Schedule asthma follow up appointments with your child’s pediatrician every 3-4 months. By doing so, you can ensure your child is on the best medication plan for their asthma as they grow and as the seasons change.
  • Monitor your child’s asthma symptoms. You can keep a log on your phone or on paper if you notice more frequent asthma symptoms like coughing, wheezing or chest tightness. If you notice any of the signs or symptoms mentioned above, schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician.
  • Maintain an asthma friendly environment. Keep your home free of common asthma triggers such as dust, mold, smoke, pests and strong smells. If you are having trouble with managing home triggers, you can contact the IMPACT DC Asthma Clinic for an appointment.
  • Make sure your child gets their annual flu shot. The flu can trigger severe asthma attacks and lead to both viral and bacterial lung infections. The flu shot will drastically reduce the chances that your child will get the flu.

To learn even more about achieving well-controlled asthma, visit the IMPACT DC family resources page or call our clinical team at 202-476-3970.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Nikita Kachroo, AE-C, is a certified Asthma Educator and Population Health Project Lead at IMPACT DC.
Margarita Ramos, MD, MS, is a Pediatric Chief Resident at Children’s National Hospital and clinical provider at IMPACT DC.

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Posts from Nikita Kachroo, AE-C, and Margarita Ramos, MD, MS