Asthma is the most common chronic childhood condition, with approximately 1 in 10 children having asthma. It’s also one of the most common chronic conditions that causes children to be absent from school. Some children's asthma may improve, as they get older, but others may not. Asthma can’t be cured, but it can be controlled with proper care. If uncontrolled, asthma can be very serious, and sometimes fatal.
The following symptoms are signs of an asthmatic child:
A peak flow meter is a hand-held device that measures how fast air is blown out of the lungs. Patients can use peak flow meters to measure their own air flow regularly. The peak flow meter can be used like a thermometer to see if the airways are narrowing sometimes hours or even days before a child has symptoms of an asthma attack. Taking medication early (before symptoms), can help stop the episode quickly and prevent a serious asthma attack. All patients ages 6 and older, who have moderate or severe asthma, should think about using a peak flow meter. Some children as young as 3 years old can use it.
The peak flow meter can also be used to help a child and their doctor:
Based on the child’s history and the severity of asthma, his or her pulmonologist from Miller Children’s Pulmonary, Allergy and Cystic Fibrosis Center will develop an asthma care plan specifically for them and their family. The asthma care plan describes when and how the child should use asthma medications, what to do when the child’s asthma gets worse and when to seek emergency care. It is important that parents understand this plan and ask questions along the way.
The child's asthma care plan is important to successfully controlling asthma.
In addition to following the asthma care plan, parents want to make sure that exposure to asthma triggers is limited, and preferably avoided. Miller Children’s has a special book for children with asthma, called "My Asthma Book" that can be found in the Health Library.