Experts know that allergies and asthma are related. In fact, children with allergies often have asthma and a skin condition known as atopic dermatitis (eczema) as well. Since allergy triggers can lead to asthma attacks, effective control of allergies may lead to better control of asthma. Identifying these triggers and then avoiding them may help prevent asthma attacks. Asthma symptoms can also be brought on by such triggers as exercise, viral respiratory infections, and irritant fumes or gases. Unfortunately, asthma attacks cannot always be prevented.
Seeing your child have an asthma attack can be worrisome and very frightening, and can make you feel unsure of what to do the next time an attack occurs. Your child’s doctor and pharmacist will recommend the right medication(s), doses and delivery devices for your child to treat an asthma attack. These can come in such forms as aerosol inhaler, turbuhaler, or diskus.
Learn how to give the medications properly and make sure you understand the “action plan” designed to best manage your child’s asthma. An action plan includes a strategy to prevent an asthmatic attack by avoiding certain triggers and taking medication, as well as a rescue plan, which would be implemented should an asthmatic attack happen. Keep the action plan handy. It includes a list that takes you through specific steps to know when the asthma symptoms are worsening, what to do during an asthma attack, what dose of the medication to use, and when to seek medical attention. You might also be advised to use a peak flow meter at home, which measures how well the lungs are working.
Overall, the goal of asthma management therapy and the action plans is to have no asthma symptoms at all (i.e., no wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath). You know you have reached good asthma management when your child does not miss any school as a result of asthma, can take part in normal physical activity, has good quality sleep that is uninterrupted by asthma symptoms, and does not have to take the rescue asthma medication more than 4 times per week.
If your child has an asthma attack, here’s what to do:
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, try to quit, or at least don’t smoke in the house – smoke aggravates asthma symptoms.
Q: How can I best manage my asthma?
A: Asthma is caused by an over-reactive airway, which simply means that your lungs are very sensitive and react to certain triggers. People with asthma can be sensitive to dust, pet dander, mould, and smoke. Asthma is similar to allergies such as hay fever, but hay fever affects your upper airways, whereas asthma affects your lower airways. Speak to your doctor about your triggers and creating a plan to prevent asthma attacks.
Do you have more questions? Speak with your Live Well Pharmacist.
Asthma can be unpredictable. Make sure that you have a “rescue” inhaler with you at all times. You never know when you will need it. Let friends and co-workers know you have asthma and how to help you in case you have an attack. If you do have an attack, keep calm and use your inhaler properly, and relief will come soon.
All material © 1996-2013 MediResource Inc. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.