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Partnering Up With Your Child's Doctor on Their Asthma Care and Control

Partnering Up With Your Child's Doctor on Their Asthma Care and Control

This article is for the parents and caregivers of children who are living with asthma, or anyone who wants to learn more about asthma. The goal of this activity is the help you talk to and work with your child's doctor about their asthma care.

You will learn about:

  • Asthma and its symptoms in children

  • Asthma severity and why asthma control is important

  • Ways to manage your child's asthma

  • Creating an asthma action plan

  • Questions to ask your child's doctor

Test Your Knowledge

What It Means When Your Child Has Asthma

Asthma is a chronic (long-term) health condition where exposure to certain triggers causes inflammation (swelling) in your child's airways, narrowing them and making it hard for them to breathe.

Not all asthma is the same. For some kids, the trigger for inflammation can be something that causes an allergic reaction (an allergen), such as pollen, mold, dust mites, or animal saliva and dander.

While other kids can have non-allergic triggers for their asthma, such as air pollution, cigarette smoke, stress, having an infection, exercise, or cold air.

Asthma Symptoms in Children

Common asthma symptoms in children can include:

  • Cough that doesn't go away, gets worse with a cold or flu, or happens during sleep, exercise, or in cold air

  • Shortness of breath, wheezing, or trouble breathing

  • Stopping to catch their breath during activities

  • Chest tightness or pain

  • Fatigue (tiredness) or having less energy

For some kids, asthma symptoms can be severe enough to interfere with their daily activities, school, and sleep.

What Asthma Severity Means

How bad, or severe, asthma is can often be defined by how frequently symptoms happen.

With moderate asthma, symptoms happen every day with nighttime awakenings more than 1 night a week. Symptoms may disrupt your child's normal activities and make it hard for them to sleep.

With severe asthma, symptoms happen throughout the day on most days with nighttime awakenings every night. This can greatly affect your child's quality of life and even easy daily tasks may be difficult. It may also be hard to control your child's symptoms.

Why Asthma Control Is Important

Asthma, especially if not well-controlled, can greatly affect your child's quality of life. Severe uncontrolled asthma can even be debilitating for some kids.

Over time, asthma can cause permanent airway and lung damage and other serious complications (additional problems) in children like:

  • Missed school and activities

  • Stress, anxiety, and depression

  • Delays in growth

  • Lung infections

Asthma that's not managed properly can also result in asthma attacks that may lead to hospital or emergency room visits and can even be life-threatening.

Getting Control

There is no cure for asthma, and your child's symptoms may continue as they get older, but asthma can be managed. You and their doctor will make a treatment plan together that best fits your child's individual needs, including any necessary changes along the way.

The goals of asthma treatment will be to control your child's asthma, prevent damage, and improve their quality of life. Your child's doctor may recommend identifying and avoiding any triggers, lifestyle changes, medicines, and creating an asthma action plan.

Medicines to Help Your Child's Asthma

Long-term medicines are usually used daily to help control asthma symptoms and prevent attacks. They can include:

  • Inhaled corticosteroids alone or in combination with a long-acting beta agonist

  • Leukotriene modifiers

  • Biologics for moderate to severe (or severe) asthma that doesn't get better with other medicines

Your child's doctor may also recommend quick-relief (rescue) medicines that are to be used as needed for short-term relief during an asthma attack.

All medicines can have side effects. Be sure to ask about what side effects can happen with the medicines in your child's treatment plan and how to manage them.

Your Child's Asthma Action Plan

You and your child's doctor can also create an asthma action plan to help control their asthma that includes:

  • A list of triggers and ways to avoid them

  • When and how your child should use their medicines and inhalers correctly

  • What uncontrolled asthma looks like and what to do if asthma gets worse

  • When to call your child's doctor or get emergency medical care

You can also give copies of your child's action plan to their babysitters, caregivers, and teachers so they'll know what to do if an asthma attack happens.

Tips to Help Manage Your Child's Asthma

Other ways you can help manage your child's asthma include:

  • Help them stay active and keep a healthy weight

  • Keep all medical appointments and check in with your child's doctor regularly to review their treatment plan

  • Track how well their asthma is controlled by recording how often symptoms happen, how bad they are, and any triggers

  • Look for signs of uncontrolled asthma -- such as using quick-relief medicines too often -- and record how many inhaler puffs they use each week

Tracking your child's asthma can help get them the proper treatment to achieve asthma control to prevent attacks and avoid complications.

Questions to Ask Your Child's Doctor

Questions you can ask your child's doctor and healthcare team about their asthma can include:

  • What can I do to help control my child's asthma?

  • What may be triggering my child's asthma and how can we avoid it?

  • Are there any lifestyle changes we should make?

  • What's the correct way to use inhalers?

  • What treatments are available, and what are their side effects?

  • How will I know if my child's asthma is under control, and what can we do if it isn't?

Test Your Knowledge

Survey questions


You have successfully completed the program Partnering Up With Your Child's Doctor on Their Asthma Care and Control.

View Additional Materials on this topic that you may find useful:


Learn How to Control Asthma

Asthma Action Plans

National Asthma Control Program

Authors and Disclosures

Clinician Reviewer

Karen Badal, MD, MPH

Senior Medical Education Director, Medscape, LLC.

Karen Badal, MD, MPH, has no relevant financial relationships.


Anita A. Galdieri, PharmD, RPh

Associate Director, Content Development, Medscape, LLC.

Anita A. Galdieri, PharmD, RPh, has no relevant financial relationships.


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