You and your child's pediatrician or allergist should work together as a team to create and carry out an asthma action plan. This plan should outline how to
- Avoid asthma triggers
- Monitor symptoms
- Take medicines
The plan should also tell you when to call the nurse or doctor.
You should also have an emergency plan that outlines what to do when your child's asthma flares up. If your child is in school, make sure teachers, school nurses, physical education teachers, and coaches know about your child's need to take asthma medicine. Find out what you need to do to let your child take his medicine during school hours. (You may need to sign a consent form.) Make sure the school has a copy of your child's asthma action plan.
There are two basic kinds of medication for the treatment of asthma:
- Long-term control medications
- Quick relief or "rescue" medications
Long-term control medications are used on a regular basis to prevent asthma symptoms, not for treatment during an attack. They should be taken every day, even when you do not have symptoms. Some people may need more than one long-term control medication.
Types of long-term control medications include:
- Inhaled steroids (such as Azmacort, Vanceril, AeroBid, Flovent) prevent swelling in your airways - these are almost the first choice of treatment
- Leukotriene inhibitors (such as Singulair and Accolate)
- Long-acting bronchodilators (such as Serevent) help open airways - are usually used in combination with inhaled steroids
- Cromolyn sodium (Intal) or nedocromil sodium
- Aminophylline or theophylline (not used as frequently as in the past)
Review Date: 04/26/2010
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.