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Tips for Managing Asthma in Children

September 19, 2019 | Eseer Alrukabi: Love Oak Pharmacist Intern

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that causes wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing. It is more common in children under the age of 12. Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization in children less than 15 years of age. It is also the top reason why children miss school days. According to the Control Disease Center it is estimated that 14 million American children missed school in 2013 due to asthma attacks or exacerbation.


Try avoid asthma triggers such as:

  • Secondhand smoke

  • Chemicals/inhalants

  • Pollen/ grass/ allergen

  • Dirt/ dust

  • Weather changes

  • Pets

  • Medications such as, aspirin, NSAIDS, beta blockers, and many others. *It is important to monitor your child and determine which possible trigger causes asthma exacerbation

Use medications that prescribed by your doctor as directed:

  • Medication adherence plays a big factor in controlling asthma; it is very important to take maintenance medications daily to prevent further exacerbation.

  • Ask your healthcare provider which inhaler is a rescue inhaler (take it as needed) and which one is maintenance (use daily regardless of symptoms).

Follow asthma action plan to assess how controlled your asthma is by using peak flow device:

  • A peak flow meter will tell you how controlled your child asthma is

  • It must be use daily

It consists of three colored zones:

  • Green zone indicates that asthma is controlled and therefore continue current therapy.

  • Yellow zone indicates that asthma is not controlled and further actions are required. See your health care provider for assessment and possible medication change.

  • Red zone indicates that asthma is severely uncontrolled and it may cause a life threatening condition if not treated. Seek medical attention immediately and possible hospitalization.

  • Click here to access a printable Asthma Action plan in both English and Spanish.

How to use peak flow meter:

  1. Move the marker to the bottom of the numbered scale.

  2. Stand up straight.

  3. Take a deep breath. Fill your lungs all the way.

  4. Hold your breath while you place the mouthpiece in your mouth, between your teeth. Close your lips around it. DO NOT put your tongue against or inside the hole.

  5. Blow out as hard and as fast as you can in a single blow. Your first burst of air in important so blowing for a longer time will not affect your result.

  6. Write down the number you get. But, if you coughed or did not do steps right. Do not write the number down, instead do the steps over again.

  7. Move the marker back to the bottom and repeat all these steps 2 more times. The highest of the numbers is your peak flow number. Write it down in your log chart.

Ask your health care provider the proper inhalation technique to ensure that your child received the proper dose and thus prevent increase frequency of inhaled puffs.

  • Shake inhaler for 5 seconds.

  • Prime the inhaler by pressing down the canister with your index finger to release the medication. Hold away from the face to prevent medication from getting into eyes. Press the canister down again three times.

  • After you use the inhaler for the first time, it does not need to be primed again unless you do not used it for two to three weeks.

  • If you use a face mask, it is important to the hold the mask snugly against the child’s face.

References

  1. Asthma Action Plan. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. https://www.aafa.org/asthma-treatment-action-plan/. Published September 2015. Accessed September 18, 2019.

  2. Asthma facts. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. https://www.aafa.org/asthma-facts/. Accessed September 18, 2019.

  3.  Gibson PG, Powell H. Written action plans for asthma: an evidence-based review of the key components. Thorax. 2004;59(2):94-99. doi:10.1136/thorax.2003.011858

  4. ​Chike-harris KE, Kinyon-munch K. Asthma 101: Teaching children to use metered dose inhalers. Nursing. 2019;49(3):56-60.

  5. American Lung Association. Diagnosing and Treating Asthma. Available at: https://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/asthma/diagnosing-treating-asthma/how-is-asthma-treated.html. Accessed September 18, 2019.

  6. Get Asthma Help. How to use Inhalers. Available at: https://getasthmahelp.org/inhalers-how-to.aspx Accessed September 18, 2019

  7. Mangment of asthma. https://www.med.umich.edu/1info/FHP/practiceguides/asthma/EPR-3_pocket_guide.pdf. Acessed September 18, 2019

  8. NHS. Using peek flow meter. Available at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000043.htm. Accessed September 18, 2019

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