Teaching Your Child About Asthma

Has your child been diagnosed with asthma? Often, as a parent, we feel like we are the only one who can protect him or her.

One of the primary steps toward asthma control and peace of mind with your child is helping him or her understand asthma. This article should help explain the complex disease of asthma so that your child can understand.


Explaining Asthma: How to Keep It Simple

The best approach is to use age-appropriate language to help your child understand what happens during an asthma flare-up. If you stick to basic information and avoid medical jargon, you’ll help your child understand it better. Be sure to include making your child aware of what may trigger their symptoms, and what happens to cause the symptoms. The AAAAI website has a great section Just for Kids for activities than can explain asthma in terms your child can understand.

Managing your child’s medications doesn’t have to be an issue, especially with younger children. As a parent it’s your responsibility to ensure they receive the medication as prescribed. The best way to accomplish that is to set a routine to you can both remember when meds should be taken. It’s a good idea to practice with a nebulizer, peak flow meter and a spacer so that he or she understands how each can help better manage their asthma.


Talking to Older Children About Asthma

When talking to adolescents or teens, your goal should be effective self-management of his or her asthma. One of the biggest challenges is ensuring that they are taking their prescribed meds at the appointed time, as well as avoiding triggers. Obviously, both are essential for successful disease control. Adolescents especially need to understand what happens if they don’t take their medications on time every day. You can explain that they may feel healthy enough to participate in almost any activities their friends do, but maintaining their health means they must take their medication as prescribed.
Often, teens are curious about how they might have acquired asthma. This chart from AAAAI may help: http://www.aaaai.org/Aaaai/media/ MediaLibrary/Images/illustrations/Asthma.jpg


Preparation for Emergencies

No matter what, there will always be a time when your child will experience an asthma “attack” when you’re not there to help. When that does happen, it’s imperative that he or she knows exactly what to do. The people around him or her need to know as well.

Be sure to establish a line of communication with your child’s teachers, babysitters, coaches and even parents of their friends. Help then recognize asthma symptoms and know the proper response.  Share a copy of your child’s Asthma Action Plan to refer to in case of a flare-up. Ensure your child understands the importance of always having his or her rescue inhaler available. Explain the proper times and methods to use the rescue meds. You can even write “911” or “RESCUE” on the inhaler to make it easy to distinguish from your child’s other inhalers.

For older children/adolescents/teens, you may need to remind them to always carry their rescue inhaler.

These tips should provide you with the ammunition to help your child, teen or adolescent better understand and cope with their asthma.

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