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Categories > Children’s Health > Childhood asthma

Easy breathing
Three-way partnership

Common culprits
Common culprits

Asthma attacks are often triggered by:

  • viral infections
  • pollen
  • physical exertion
  • cigarette smoke
  • animal dander
  • dust mites
  • perfume

Asthma checklist
Asthma checklist

The answers to the following questions may help identify your child’s asthma triggers.

  • Do the asthma attacks occur mainly at one time of the year? If they coincide with pollen season, the problem may not be asthma at all.
  • Do the asthma attacks occur more often on certain days of the week?
  • Do the attacks occur when your child is faced with certain stressful situations?

Keeping a detailed diary of your child’s attacks, including location, time of day and possible allergens, can give the doctor clues for better management.

At home
At home

  • Forbid smoking in your home.
  • Replace heating and air conditioning filters at least once a month.
  • Remove carpeting and heavy draperies (especially from your child’s bedroom).
  • Eliminate dust-collecting knickknacks.

Knowing how to prevent attacks will help your child overcome asthma They can be triggered by the most innocuous things—the grass underfoot, a downy pillow, a cuddly pup. But once they start, asthma attacks can leave a child struggling for air.

Asthma attacks are more than just frightening: Studies show that children today are dying of asthma at twice the rate they did in 1980. Yet while it can’t be cured, asthma can be controlled.

Three-way partnership

The first step in managing childhood asthma is forming a three-way partnership between the child, the parents and the physician. If your son or daughter is affected, ask your physician to help guide your child to identify the triggers that cause the bronchial tubes to swell. Once you have identified the triggers, limit your child’s attacks by eliminating them from his or her environment.


When triggers can’t be controlled, medications can prevent or halt an attack. Antiinflammatory medications and other drugs can prevent the bronchial tubes from swelling. But if an attack occurs, your child, if old enough, should know how to use a metered-dose inhaler to administer a bronchodilator (medication that opens the bronchial tubes) or a home nebulizer that emits a mist of water and medication. Respiratory therapists can provide in-home instruction on using these devices.

Another key is having your child learn to use a peak-flow meter, which measures airflow strength. The meter can help parents determine when to seek emergency treatment.