How can I help my child cope with asthma?

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Answered by: Rachael, An Expert in the Coping with Asthma Category
Asthma is a growing problem for children today. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, it affects over 6 million kids and is the leading cause of absence from school. It can be tricky to manage; the mainstay treatment involves the use of controller medications, which are typically combinations of steroids and long-acting beta-agonists or LABAs. Steroids can cause growth and weight problems, among other problems, which can make parents wary. Further, such medications don't totally prevent asthma attacks, and the side effects, such as weight gain, can cause children with asthma to be bullied and feel insecure. What's a way to help children cope with asthma?

Listen to them

When your child tells you that certain activities make them feel sick, if they seem nervous and distressed by an activity, or they insist they can't do something, take their word for it. Being pushed past their limits can not only result in an asthma attack, but can cause anxiety about activities. Further, it can prevent your child from recognizing their limits and not informing you of when they are having an attack. This is also an important way to gauge whether medications are working or causing side effects. Being able to express fears and concerns, and being taken seriously when they can't do something, will go a long way to helping their confidence in you and themselves.

Take their side

Asthma is very common and there is a wide range of discomfort and restriction. Some children have a very mild disease that only affects them occasionally and without much disruption, while others have severe disease that sees them in the ER on a regular basis. Unfortunately, many people don't realize the wide range of impairment the disease can cause, or that every child has different triggers, each of which can have different impacts on their health. Two children might have attacks from exercise, but while one just has a mild exacerbation, the other has a serious attack that sends them home from school. There are many more children with mild or moderate disease than severe, and asthmatics can be athletes, this can cause teachers and staff at school to be less understanding and even refuse to acknowledge a child's limitations. Such refusal can lead to embarrassment for a child, by calling attention to their condition and limits in front of classmates, as well as through failing to meet expectations. Even some doctors can be this way. Unreasonable adults can cause a lot of stress for children with asthma, don't be one of them, take their side and stand up for their comfort and health.

Stay Calm

Asthma is a scary disease. It often is triggered suddenly and can be terrifying to witness, as well as experience. Asthma attacks can cause a child to turn blue, gasp, and cough, alongside the classic whistle and wheeze. For a child, being unable to breathe is frightening, and it can be painful as well, as they use back, shoulder and abdominal muscles to try and force air in and out of their lungs. Staying calm will help your child stay calm, which will keep the attack from getting worse.

Asthma can reach far into a child's life, and there are more tips focusing on specific problems related to asthma, such as tips for bullying, especially when medications cause weight gain and other side effects. The suggestions presented here can get you started at home to help your child cope with asthma and can be suggested to teachers and other caregivers as well.

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