Your Asthma Action Plan

Article at a Glance

  • Between ten and fifteen percent of grade school children are affected by asthma.
  • Exercise is a vital component of wellness, even for kids with asthma.
  • Work with your pediatrician to create an asthma flare-up action plan and share it with your child’s school administrators.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 10% to 15% of grade school children are affected by asthma, and that rate appears to be rising. Asthma is different from a passing cold or even allergies. It’s a chronic condition that affects the airways.

Children with asthma have symptoms that come and go, but the tubes that carry air in and out of their lungs are always in a state of irritation. Asthma makes the tubes narrow or swollen, and leave them prone to “flare-ups” when a child encounters certain irritants. During a flare-up, the inflammation of the airways worsens, and less air can get through.

Flare-ups are frightening and can even be deadly, so it’s important for parents to work with their child and pediatrician on an asthma action plan.

Daily maintenance

If your pediatrician has prescribed a daily medication, make sure your child takes it as prescribed. Don’t quit because symptoms seem to have dropped off. Daily medications help treat the underlying inflammation and work to reduce the number and severity of flare-ups.

Know the environmental triggers

Learn your child’s triggers so that you can teach him or her to avoid them. Common environmental triggers are:

  • secondhand smoke
  • cold air
  • animal dander
  • dust mites
  • mold
  • cockroaches

In Utah County and Salt Lake County, children with asthma are often bothered by periods of inversion when air pollution lies trapped in the valleys. Breathing only filtered, indoor air can offer some relief.

Know your child’s other triggers

Other things that are harder to avoid can also prompt flare-ups.

Exercise, active allergies and respiratory infections are a few situations that put the child living with asthma at a higher risk for a flare-up.

Exercise is a vital component of wellness, even for kids with asthma. If your child requires medication before exercise, communicate this to your child’s teachers and coaches.

Recognize the symptoms of a flare-up.

Watch for these symptoms so that you can react quickly:

  • Breathing rapidly or irregularly
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Clearing of the throat
  • Trouble standing or sitting still
  • Restless sleep
  • Worsening of asthma symptoms such as wheezing, coughing or shortness of breath

During a severe flare-up, your child may struggle to breathe, even when sitting still. He or she may not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.

Work with your pediatrician to create an asthma action plan so you know:

  • When to take maintenance medications
  • When and how to use rescue medication
  • When to see the pediatrician
  • When to go to the hospital

You will also need to communicate this plan to your child’s school and discuss the plan with teachers and staff. Make sure everyone involved in your child’s daily life knows how to recognize and react to a flare-up.

For more information:
Managing Asthma in Utah’s Winter Inversion
Weathering My Child’s Asthma
Asthma Management at School (Healthy

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