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An asthma action plan

You wouldn’t give your young child the same medicine dose you’d take, so it makes sense that you wouldn’t treat his or her asthma the same way either.

Recognizing that children may not respond to asthma treatment the same way adults would, the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program has released new guidelines geared toward managing asthma in the elementary school crowd. Among the new recommendations for children ages 5 to 11:

  • Let your child engage in sports and play. Staying active is important to keep children healthy—mentally and physically. Using medications and taking preventive measures, such as warming up right before the activity, can help stop episodes of exercise-induced bronchospasm. This condition can cause coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, wheezing or lack of stamina during exercise. If normal activities leave your child winded, talk to his or her pediatrician about increasing medicine dosages.
  • Include your child in developing an asthma action plan. Children ages 10 and older (or younger children who can handle it) should help create their action plan, which can give them some feeling of control over their condition. The plan includes a list of drugs and how to take them, asthma triggers—for example, dust mites—and instructions on how to recognize and deal with asthma symptoms and flare-ups. Provide your child’s school with a written copy of the plan.
  • Keep an eye on the asthma. Your child’s asthma may change as time goes on, so make sure he or she sees the doctor regularly—even if all seems well. Lung function tests can determine whether asthma is under control.
  • Be aware that your child’s drug doses may vary. The goal is to control asthma with the lowest dose possible. Medicine levels and types may be adjusted up or down based on how your child is doing.