Tips and Tools: Parent power fights asthma

Seeing your child have an asthma attack can be scary, leaving you feeling helpless about what to do the next time one strikes.

Your child's doctor will decide on the right medication(s), doses and delivery systems. Learn how to give the medications properly and make sure you understand the "action plan" the doctor may have designed for you to best manage your child's asthma. An action plan is a list of specific steps to take depending on the severity of your child's asthma. Often, the severity of your child's asthma is measured with a peak flow meter, a device that measures how well the lungs are working. Thus, action plans are often based on peak flow meter results.

If your child has an asthma attack, here's what to do:

  • Act calm, confident and speak to the child reassuringly.
  • Give the reliever medications as your doctor instructed at the very start of an attack.
  • Make sure your child drinks liquids to prevent dehydration.
  • Try to figure out what triggered the attack, then remove it (or the child) from the area.
  • Follow the action plan. If your child uses a peak flow meter, take a measurement to use with the action plan.
  • If the attack is under control, you can relax. If it isn't, call the doctor.

You can be your child's most important ally in controlling asthma. Inform teachers, principals, school nurses, coaches and babysitters of the asthma, what triggers it and what should be done during an attack. As kids get older, you can teach them to manage their asthma themselves. And if you're a smoker, you should quit, or at least don't smoke in the house -- your child's asthma symptoms will improve.

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