A Roadmap of Asthma Maintenance

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(Photo by stock.xchng user tijmen.)

Identifying asthma in a little kid is arduous enough and everyone’s got a diagnosis story, but the real work begins after diagnosis. Then you’re looking at a comprehensive strategy of prevention, maintenance, and treatment and a whole lot of guesswork and trial-and-error to get there.

Here’s a general sort of roadmap to get you started on the path to asthma maintenance:

1. Read, read, read. Check out my blogroll up top below for some good information sources.

2. Start keeping an asthma trigger journal to figure out your child’s pattern of flaring. Reading up on common triggers for other people isn’t a bad idea, either, but take lists like the one in that link for what they’re worth. No trigger list can ever be completely exhaustive.

3. Cover your kid’s mattress and pillows with allergenic cases. Virtually every asthmatic I know has a sensitivity to dust mites, and the covers help keep kids from flaring at night.

4.Schedule allergy testing unless you’re absolutely certain they’re not part of the trigger picture.

5. Again, you probably cannot read enough when it comes to childhood asthma.

6. Ask your pediatrician for a referral to a pediatric pulmonologist or an allergy/asthma specialist. I’ll be honest with you: my daughter doesn’t have one of these anymore because she’s older now and well-maintained through her pediatrician. But her specialist was invaluable during her younger years when we stumbled through the darkness of uncontrolled asthma, and I’d start taking her to a pulmonologist again in a second if her health started to suffer or her asthma worsen.

7. Talk to other parents, in person or online. Asthma parents who’ve been doing it for awhile are a goldmine of information and tips. If for nothing else, it’s a serious sanity boost to talk to someone else who understands what words like *beta agonist* mean.

8. When you have enough information about your kid’s triggers and flares, set up an asthma maintenance program with the doctor. Depending on your kid’s age, health, and type of asthma, this will include all or some of the following: quick-relief inhaler or nebulizer meds, controller inhaler or nebulizer meds, peak flow meter, asthma action plan for school, allergy meds.

28 responses to “A Roadmap of Asthma Maintenance”

  1. kerri says:

    Very nice! I wish I would have had this when I got my diagnosis :) !

    I definitely agree with seeing a pulmonologist right off. I could have likely saved a LOT of time and trial and error if I’d been assessed more thoroughly nearer to the time of my diagnosis. However, better late than never! :)
    Same goes for the allergy testing. I’m interested in seeing my results next week, that’s for sure :) .

    The testing and seeing a specialist allows patients [and parents!] to see the bigger asthma picture, something you’re likely not getting when you’re just seeing a regular doctor.

  2. Amy says:

    Yeah, I wish I would have DONE all this right away when the kid got her diagnosis–and especially taken her to a specialist immediately. This list should be subtitled, “Do as I say, not as I did.”

  3. Ang says:

    another good tip: when they get old enough give them ownership. As much as they can handle. Be it writing the peak flow number, or taking their meds every day themselves and marking it on a chart. The more ownership the better, our jobs are to teach them how to live with asthma! (okay and worry our heads off in the prcoess!!!) Great list Amy :)

    I haven’t written out our diagnosis stories. I’m still muddling why it took so long with Alorah, and how hard it was to swallow with Vance being that he was a tiny 4mth old. I will soon though..

  4. Her Grace says:

    Amy — I have a question. My older daughter, who I suspect may be heading toward RAD or asthma, has been complaining of not being able to take a deep breath. She doesn’t cough or wheeze or get short of breath unless she’s sick. I have EXACTLY the same symptom, and my doctors have always said it’s unlikely to be related to asthma. But now that we’re both doing it, I’m wondering.

    Is being unable to take a deep breath a symptom of asthma in children? (I know you can’t give medical advice, just bouncing it off you.)

  5. Amy says:

    Sure sounds like an asthma symptom to me. I don’t know what it feels like personally, of course, but I do know that when the airways constrict during a flare, air trapping occurs. And not being able to get enough of the air OUT on the exhale apparently feels like you can’t get enough air IN.

    When AG goes through this, she breathes in okay, but coughs on the exhale. She’s never complained of not being able to take a deep breath, but when she was little and too young to explain her symptoms or use a peak flow meter, we had to count her respirations per minute. Fast, shallow breathing without exercise meant she was flaring, and I’ve always assumed she wasn’t able to take deep breaths during those times, either.

  6. Allison says:

    Her Grace — before my son was diagnosed and before he had any other symptoms, he would have difficulty taking a deep breath. It was like he couldn’t get the rhythm of breathing down. I pretty much ignored it, but looking back, it was one of the first signs of trouble.

  7. rick says:

    Rightly so that you mention reading about asthma more than once. Can’t overemphasize the importance of asthma wisdom.

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