Asthma in children - what to ask your doctor
Asthma is a problem with the airways that bring oxygen to your lungs. A child with asthma may not feel symptoms all the time. But when an asthma attack happens, it becomes hard for air to pass through the airways. The symptoms are:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
Below are some questions you may want to ask your health care provider to help you take care of your child's asthma.
What to ask your doctor about asthma - child
Is my child taking asthma medicines the right way?
- What medicines should my child take every day (called controller drugs)? What should I do if my child misses a day?
- Which medicines should my child take when they are short of breath (called rescue drugs)? Is it OK to use these rescue drugs every day?
- What are the side effects of these medicines? For what side effects should I call the doctor?
- How will I know when the inhalers are getting empty? Is my child using the inhaler the right way? Should my child be using a spacer?
What are some signs that a child's asthma is getting worse and that I need to call the doctor? What should I do when my child feels short of breath?
What shots or vaccinations does my child need?
How do I find out when smog or pollution is worse?
What sort of changes should I make around the home?
- Can we have a pet? In the house or outside? How about in the bedroom?
- Is it OK for anyone to smoke in the house? How about if my child is not in the house when someone is smoking?
- Is it OK for me to clean and vacuum when my child is in the house?
- Is it OK to have carpets in the house?
- What type of furniture is best to have?
- How do I get rid of dust and mold in the house? Do I need to cover my child's bed or pillows?
- Can my child have stuffed animals?
- How do I know if I have cockroaches in my home? How do I get rid of them?
- Can I have a fire in my fireplace or a wood-burning stove?
What does my child's school or daycare need to know about my child's asthma?
- Do I need to have an asthma plan for the school?
- How can I make sure my child can use the medicines at school?
- Can my child participate fully in gym class at school?
What types of exercises or activities are better for a child with asthma to do?
- Are there times when my child should avoid being outside?
- Are there things that I can do before my child starts exercising?
Does my child need tests or treatments for allergies? What should I do when I know my child will be around something that triggers their asthma?
What type of arrangements do I need to make when we are planning to travel?
- What medicines should I bring? How do we get refills?
- Who should I call if my child's asthma gets worse?
Dunn NA, Neff LA, Maurer DM. A stepwise approach to pediatric asthma. J Fam Pract. 2017;66(5):280-286. PMID: 28459888 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28459888.
Jackson DJ, Lemanske RF, Guilbert TW. Management of asthma in infants and children. In: Adkinson NF, Bochner BS, Burks AW, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 53.
Liu AH, Covar RA, Spahn JD, Sicherer SH. Childhood asthma. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 144.
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.