6 Questions to Ask Your Child’s Doctor about Asthma

6 Questions to Ask Your Child’s Doctor about Asthma

When your child has asthma, you and your doctor are part of the team that helps you care for your child.  The first step is to find out if your child has asthma.

Coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath can be caused by asthma, but also may be caused by other conditions so it’s critical to get a proper diagnosis.  If your child is diagnosed with asthma, here are some things you need to talk about with your child’s doctor: 

  1. What medicine does my child need? 
    Your child’s doctor will probably give you a “rescue” medicine for an asthma attack, but your child may also need a controller medicine. A controller medication should be used daily to flare-ups, even if there are no symptoms and you child is feeling well. Both rescue and controller medications come in equally effective inhaler or breathing treatments (i.e. nebulizer) forms. Talk to your doctor about what drugs your child will need, and what may be the best way to take them. Make sure you get instructions on how to use the medicine. 
  2. How do I manage my child’s asthma? 
    The doctor should also provide guidance on how to take care of your child’s asthma. It is best if you and your child’s doctor create a written Asthma Action Plan. This plan outlines what to do every day to control asthma, what steps to take if asthma symptoms mildly worsen, and what to do if your child has a more severe asthma attack. It can be shared with your child’s school nurse and teachers, team coaches, other family members and anyone who regularly spends time with your child.  
  3. Could our home be making my child sick? 
    Things in your home could be making your child’s asthma worse. A doctor can talk with you about asthma triggers and suggest changes that may be needed. You can use a Triggers Checklist to find ways to make your home a healthier place for your child. 
  4. When do you want to see us again? 
    You generally should expect to visit the doctor at least twice a year, because your doctor will want to check your child’s condition and medicine. If you are still working to get your child’s asthma under control, the doctor will likely want to see him or her more often. Also make sure you ask the doctor what problems they will want you to call them about and include that information on the Asthma Action Plan. 
  5. What about a flu shot? 
    Its recommended that all children older than 6 months, but especially those with asthma get vaccinated against influenza every year Because there are different forms of the vaccine (i.e. a traditional shot versus inhaled mist forms), it is best to take your child to the doctor (versus schools, pharmacies, etc.) to help decide what may be the most appropriate way to get the flu vaccine. 
  6. Can my child play sports?
    If your child’s asthma is under control, playing sports or exercising shouldn’t be a problem. It is important to check with your child’s doctor before they begin a new physical activity and let him or her know immediately if your child has an asthma attack during or following activity. Adjustments to your child’s medications and asthma action plan may be necessary.

Having a regular doctor manage your child’s asthma is key to keeping asthma under control and your child out of the emergency department. If you haven’t already, take the first step by scheduling an appointment with a doctor.

To learn more about Asthma and the Taking on Asthma initiative, visit our website.

Originally published: June 21, 2016

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