The Learning Process
The good news is that for most kids with asthma, it can be well controlled — sometimes so well that flare-ups are rare.
For many families, the learning process is the hardest part of controlling asthma. Between diagnosis and good control, there's much to learn and a lot to do.
Don't be surprised or discouraged if your child has flare-ups while learning to control asthma. Asthma control can take a little time and energy to master, but is worth the effort!
How long it takes to get asthma under control depends on a child's age, the severity of symptoms, how often flare-ups occur, and how willing and able the family is to follow a doctor's prescribed treatment plan.
All kids need a doctor-prescribed asthma action plan to control symptoms and flare-ups.
Identifying and Controlling Asthma Triggers
Triggers — things that can irritate airways and lead to an asthma flare-up — can vary from season to season and as kids get older. Common triggers include:
- allergens, including microscopic dust mites present in house dust, carpets, and pillows; animal dander and saliva; pollens and grasses; molds; foods; medications; and cockroaches
- viral infections, including the common cold and the flu
- irritants, including smoke, air fresheners, aerosols, paint fumes, hair spray, and perfumes
- breathing in cold air
- weather changes
Identifying triggers and symptoms can take time and good detective work. But once patterns are discovered, some of the triggers can be avoided through environmental control measures.
Anticipating and Preventing Flare-Ups
Many kids with asthma have increasing inflammation in their airways from everyday trigger exposure — but they just can't feel it. Their breathing may sound normal and wheeze-free when their airways are actually narrowing and becoming inflamed, making them prone to a flare-up.
Since just listening to a child's breathing (or asking how the breathing feels) can't give an accurate sense of what's happening inside, a better way to measure breathing is needed. One way to measure breathing is by using an instrument called a spirometer, a computerized machine that measures the amount of air inhaled or exhaled and how much time each breath takes. This test is usually done in a doctor's office.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation. All rights reserved.
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