Establish Care Plan for Children With Asthma

Children who have a written asthma care plan are half as likely to have a hospital stay or an emergency department visit than those who lack a plan, according to a study by a regional health maintenance organization.

But fewer than one out of three children with asthma in Milwaukee Public Schools has a written asthma care plan, according to survey data analyzed by Medical College of Wisconsin researchers at the Center for Advancement of Urban Children. The survey of 1,269 students was conducted by the Health Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Written asthma care plans help a family decide what medicines to give when a child’s asthma worsens. Asthma care plans are a key component of educational efforts to promote early care of childhood asthma flare-ups by parents at home. For example, care plans may remind parents to give asthma medicines to their children at the onset of cold symptoms.

Proper control of asthma means more than medicine. An asthma care plan is a tool for children, families, doctors and schools to keep record of things in the environment that can make asthma worse and medicines that can control asthma flare-ups.

Always have an inhaler available and contact your child’s doctor before it runs out of medicine. You can tell how full an inhaler is by putting it in a glass of water. A full inhaler will sink to the bottom, a half-full inhaler will float vertically in the water, and an empty inhaler will float horizontally on top of the water.

You may want to use a peak flow meter to measure how hard your child can blow air out of his or her lungs. By keeping a record of the peak flow numbers, you can know if the asthma needs extra control or if your child’s doctor needs to adjust the treatment. Peak flow monitoring should be done in the morning and evening every day.

Peak flow monitoring offers three zones related to the individual’s lung power: green, which indicates normal (over 80% of personal best); yellow which indicates a mild-to-moderate problem (50 to 80% of personal best); and red, which indicates a severe problem or emergency (under 50 percent of personal best).

In addition, learn how the weather and air outside can effect asthma. Know the things to do to avoid making your child’s asthma worse. For example, when it’s cold and dry, cover his or her mouth and nose with a scarf. When it’s hot and humid, a child with asthma should slow down and stay inside where it’s cool, if possible.


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