Asthma and Kids

After the Diagnosis

Find the Triggers

Once you know that your child has asthma, one of the first things to do is determine what triggers an attack. Exercise can activate attacks, as can allergens, viruses, cold air, and even laughing or crying.

Ideally, a doctor helps find the triggers. Then she or he explains how to medicate before exposure, or how to limit the exposure by battling germs or reducing allergens through cleaning and air filtration.

Choose the Right Doctor

The doctor, whether a general practitioner, allergist, or pulmonologist (lung specialist), should be an energetic partner in asthma control. For example, he or she should demonstrate how to use a peak-flow meter, a small device that measures changes in airflow from the lungs, warning of an impending attack days in advance.

"You want to find a doctor who's going to explain how the different asthma medications work, teach you about what goes on in the lungs, and then provide a written treatment plan," says Dr. White.

Learn About Drug Treatments

Taking the right medicine
at the right time is crucial
to asthma management.

Inflammation in the airway lining is the underlying cause of asthma. Untreated over many years, inflammation also leads to scarring. Asthma experts now recommend that anyone with more than mild asthma should take a daily anti-inflammatory, such as corticosteroids or cromolyn sodium, and then use a bronchodilator, often via an inhaler, for quick relief.

Whatever drugs an asthmatic child is prescribed, parents should make sure their children take them. Dr. White says parents need to get over any feelings of uneasiness about giving a child daily medicine. She calls the less-medication-is-better mentality "disastrous if you have asthma."