This post was sponsored by the American Lung Association. All opinions are my own.
How To Find The Best Asthma Management Plan For Your Child
It’s exactly 11:38 pm. Our family has been in bed for three hours. Our oldest kids are nestled in their beds, sound asleep. Our youngest is next to me, where he’s slept almost every night of his six-year-old life.
I am startled awake by a sound much worse than nails on a chalkboard. The noise is a bone-chilling, painful cough; the sound of inflamed airways made worse by a severe postnasal drip and our youngest gasping for air.
Our asthmatic son has once again come down with a bad cold. Although come to think of it, there is no such thing as a “good cold” when you have any type of underlying medical condition.
He’s now fully awake, realizing that catching a breath is harder than it should be. He gets a panicked look in his eyes as he struggles to cough, breathe, cough some more and then lets out a whimper that is barely distinguishable as “mama, hold me. Help me, mama.”
I pick him up and carry him downstairs. Our “rescue medication” bin is on the top shelf above the refrigerator, always stocked, always ready to go at a moment’s notice. Of course, his peak-flow meter is registering in the “RED ZONE” which I knew even before I told him to “blow hard”. The wheezing says it all. But it’s important for me to get a reading so I can measure improvement after the medication has kicked in.
I grab his rescue inhaler and prepare a nebulizer treatment. As we snuggle up on the couch and settle in for a long night, I grab a clean copy of our “Asthma Healthƒ Diary”.
I start a new Asthma Health Diary at the onset of new symptoms. This way, I don’t have to try to remember when a cold started, when the cough got worse and when I administered rescue meds. It’s all written down and ready to share at our next doctor’s appointment.
Being a newly diagnosed asthma family is overwhelming. It can feel like your child’s asthma is constantly changing and evolving as you adjust to your new normal. Finding the right balance of daily inhalers and rescue medication can be a struggle. However, once your child’s asthma is well-managed and controlled, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief, literally and figuratively.
How do you know if your child’s asthma IS controlled?
If you find yourself dealing with three or more of these issues, your child’s asthma may be considered “uncontrolled”:
- Daytime asthma symptoms (e.g., shortness of breath, chest tightness, cough) more than twice a week.
- Waking up at night with asthma symptoms more than twice a month.
- Using quick-relief medicine for symptoms more than twice a week.
- Limiting activity because of asthma.
Check out the American Lung Association’s website for more information about severe asthma.
- There are more than 25 million Americans living with asthma in the United States.
- 5-10 percent of people with asthma are considered to have severe and uncontrolled cases of asthma.
- Severe asthma is dangerous, as it increases the risk of death, illness, depression and causes activity limitations.
However, even severe cases of asthma are controllable and manageable with the right balance of medication, trigger avoidance and physical activity.
The Lung Association is urging everyone diagnosed with asthma to take the “My Asthma Control Assessment” to find out if their asthma is properly controlled. Also, go to the website to find “Questions to Ask Your Doctor” which will help future conversations with your healthcare professional to be more proactive and productive.
As someone who has had two kids with asthma, a mother with severe and uncontrolled asthma and even lost an aunt to uncontrolled asthma, I know the value of an unrestricted deep breath of air.
Establishing an asthma management plan is a crucial tool in the daily management of symptoms, as well as in knowing how to handle new and unexpected symptoms.
Setting up an Asthma Management Plan:
These are the steps we took to get the best Asthma Management Plan in place for our kids:
- Align yourself with the top medical professionals in your area. Whether you choose to see a pediatrician and/ or a pediatric pulmonologist doesn’t matter, as long as you are working closely with a trusted medical professional.
- See your child’s medical professional on a regular basis until a good asthma management plan is in place.
- At the onset of new symptoms, start an “Asthma Health Diary” in order for you to properly report symptoms, reactions and medication doses to your child’s doctor.
- This “Asthma Action Plan” is a wonderful resource. It gives you steps to take during an asthma episode.
- Buy a peak-flow meter for each person with asthma and get a baseline measurement when your child is feeling well, when symptoms worsen and during an asthma attack. It is important to make a note of the measurements during the “green”, “yellow” and “red” zones.
- Keep a diary of symptoms and possible triggers.
- Triggers can be any combination of pollen, pet dander, outdoor air pollution, mold, tobacco smoke, dust mites, insects (cockroaches), cold weather, high humidity, strong emotions, burning wood or grass, fragrances, viruses, upper respiratory infections and physical exercise.
- Keep in mind, triggers may also change over time as the child grows and develops.
- Make sure your medicine cabinet is always fully stocked with current daily and rescue medications. This post tells you how a medical mom with four kids organizes her medicine cabinet.
- Become involved in non-profit organizations specific to your child’s health condition. When it comes to asthma, the Lung Association is the organization to closely follow.
- Report sudden or severe health changes to your medical professional immediately, in order to stay one, or even two steps ahead of an uncontrolled asthma attack.
- Talk to your child and explain asthma in an age-appropriate way. Books like this one is a great option for 4-8-year-olds.
- Empower your child to recognize symptoms early and self-regulate their activities accordingly.
- Know which questions to ask your child’s doctor.
I hope as you learn to navigate life with asthma, you find the balance between managing symptoms and letting your child live their best life. My advice to you, however, is to “be where you are”. Read more about how those four words will change the way, you parent.
Now, please head over to the Lung Association to take the “My Asthma Control Assessment” – you will find it to be an invaluable resource, I did!