Asthma can make it hard to breathe on the best days.
When kids get colds, flu or other respiratory illnesses, the coughing and wheezing make it even more difficult.
How can you help prevent asthma flares?
Many families have found themselves in the ER – or even admitted to the hospital – due to an asthma flare. The key to keeping these flares at bay is control.
Asthma CAN be controlled and controlled asthma looks very different than uncontrolled asthma. This requires keeping up with care.
What does well-controlled asthma look like?
- The ability to run and play with other children without restrictions
- Not waking up at night due to cough or trouble breathing
- Very little need for a rescue medication like albuterol – less than once/week, except for during colds
- Very few missed days of school for breathing problems
- No need for prednisone, urgent care/emergency room visits or hospitalizations
Why follow up when breathing is fine?
In between flares it may seem like everything is fine. At these times, you may even question why your child needs to see an asthma specialist – but it’s still very important.
Asthma that’s monitored and treated regularly allows kids to live active and healthy lives. It’s important to find an asthma specialist to help determine how to most effectively control your child’s asthma. They will ask questions to get an understanding of how your child’s asthma is affecting their daily activities over a period of time. Then they’ll conduct examinations and perform lung function tests as needed, depending on your child’s symptoms.
Here are some of the questions you can expect from the doctor when assessing your child’s asthma:
- How often do you need to give your child a rescue or quick relief inhaler?
- How many times does your child wake up with coughing or wheezing?
- Has your child missed school because of coughing or wheezing? Have you missed work?
- Are there things your child can’t do (or that you’re afraid for them to do) because of asthma symptoms?
- Does your child have asthma symptoms when they’re physically active?
- Does your child have to stay indoors to avoid asthma symptoms?
- Does your family miss parties, events or other activities due to asthma symptoms?
Once the specialist understands how asthma is affecting your child and their life, they’ll work with you to develop a plan to control it with medication, changes to the environment and managing flares. It can take a period of time to adjust the plan so it works best for your child’s specific needs.
Colds and flu can be serious triggers for asthma. Skip the snot, get the flu shot!
This time of year, it’s also especially important to get the flu vaccine.
“People with asthma are particularly vulnerable to complications from respiratory illnesses. While we can’t always ward off every cold that comes along, getting the influenza vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against the flu,” says Dr. Michael Schechter, pediatric pulmonologist, asthma specialist and medical director of our UCAN community asthma program. “Flu impacts the lungs. For asthmatics, this can quickly lead to flare ups, hospital trips and other undesirable consequences.”
Kids don’t have to miss out on school, sports and other daily activities when they’re feeling great and asthma is under control!
Think your child may need an asthma specialist? Read more about our UCAN program or call 804-628-8226.