How to empower your child and manage their asthma

While triggers do vary by child, the most common are found in the majority of households and might surprise you.

Common Asthma Triggers

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Smoke from burning wood or leaves
  • Spray deodorants and hair spray
  • Cleaning sprays, polishes, paints and insect sprays
  • Powder, makeup and perfume/cologne
  • Chalk dust and odors from markers
  • Pollen, smog and air pollution
  • Car and truck exhaust
  • Changes in temperature, humidity or air pressure
  • Scented candles, air fresheners or incense

Deb Lulling, RN, BSN, and Jan Moore, RRT-NPS, have a lot of experience helping patients and their families identify proper management strategies for asthma. They advise parents to empower their child by educating them and raising their awareness. 

Begin managing your child’s asthma by …

  • Learning your child’s early warning signs
  • Peak flow meter monitoring
  • Reducing triggers in their environment
  • Learning what medicines to administer and how to take them correctly
  • Making sure your child takes their medicine and get prescriptions refilled routinely
  • Establishing and implementing an Asthma Action Plan
  • Taking the child for routine well-asthma check doctor visits
  • Letting other adults who care for the child know about asthma and what to do in an emergency
  • Coaching your child to speak up and tell an adult if they’re having problems breathing
  • Encouraging and modeling good health habits like getting enough sleep, eating right and exercising

Deb and Jan advise that asthma flare-ups typically start slowly, and helping your child identify the early warning signs can help them intervene with the proper actions before the situation escalates to a severe asthma attack.  

Early warning signs of an asthma attack include:

  • Dry cough
  • Stuffy, runny nose and watery eyes
  • Sneezing, itchy throat
  • Tight chest
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble sleeping due to cough or stuffy nose
  • Feeling tired/not wanting to play
  • Feeling sad/angry moody or restless
  • Headache or stomachache
  • Ear pain
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Drop in peak flow meter scores

If your child is experiencing these symptoms to a non-threatening degree, they should:  

  1. Tell an adult.
  2. Take their medicine.
  3. Sit down and relax.

Have them practice implementing this response. Walk through it with them as many times as it takes until they feel comfortable.  

Work with the school and give them your Asthma Action Plan as well as permission to administer medications. This Back to School Checklist can be incredibly helpful in these communications. Make sure they have the doctor’s information handy as well.

A final strategy Deb and Jan shared is a basic breathing exercise for calming the child (and the parent) that encourages a calm response from the mind and body. Find a comfortable spot and practice this simple pause. 

Belly Breathing Relaxation Technique

  1. Sit up straight in a chair.
  2. Place both hands on your belly.
  3. Breathe in slowly through your nose. Pretend you’re filling up your belly with air. Feel it blow up big like a balloon.
  4. Blow air slowly out of your mouth with puckered lips. Feel your belly get small.
  5. Repeat this slowly 5-10 times.

For more educational resources and available programs at Parkview please visit 

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