Does your child wheeze? Do you have a medicine cabinet for “wheezing” and aren’t sure what to use when your child is having trouble breathing? Are you frustrated by feeling like your child is constantly coughing?
Asthma is a common chronic illness in children. Chronic refers to a disease or condition that does not go away, but instead, has times when it is better and times when it is worse. The good news is that working closely with your physician will increase your chances of finding the medicines that work best for your child.
A Closer Look at Asthma
If your child is under 2-years-old, he or she may have wheezed or used a nebulizer machine a few times, but your provider still may have avoided using the term “asthma” to describe his/her symptoms. For example, a baby may wheeze with a bad cold the first winter, but may never wheeze again. This isn’t asthma. Another baby may wheeze for the first time at 4-months-old, and then continue to wheeze every time he/she has a cold. This is more characteristic of asthma.
Common asthma triggers (things that tend to make children wheeze, cough or have trouble breathing) include:
- Colds (upper respiratory infections)
- Allergies (e.g., to mold or pets)
- Being around smoke
- Cold air
If you feel confident knowing your child has asthma, answering the following questions will be helpful:
- Do you know how to use the medicines your child has been prescribed? Can you name them and the amount he/she needs?
- Do you have an Asthma Action Plan? This is a written out plan (or instructions) on what medicines are needed for times when breathing is easy and for times when breathing is difficult.
- Has your child received his/her annual flu shot? It is VERY important that all asthmatics receive a flu shot each year. If they get influenza, children with asthma are much more likely to have severe breathing problems. Protect your child. Schedule his/her flu shot today!
- Have you provided your child’s school or other caregiver/care facility with his/her asthma medicine? You never know when your child may have trouble breathing. He or she should have access to asthma medication at all times.
- Children with asthma should be seen by a pediatric health care provider at least TWICE a year, even if they seem to be well and not having trouble breathing. Has your child had his/her asthma check-up this season? At this visit, we will review how your child has been breathing, what medicines he/she is using and what else needs to be done to ensure optimal breathing.
For more information on asthma, or to make an appointment with Melissa Reffitt, pediatric nurse practitioner (CPNP), call ProMed Physicians-Pediatrics at (269) 329.0944.