Treating asthma in children ages 5 to 11

Treating asthma in children ages 5 to 11 requires some specialized techniques. Discover tips on symptoms, medications and an asthma action plan.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Asthma in children is one of the most common causes of missed school days. The airway condition can disrupt sleep, play and other activities.

Asthma can't be cured, but you and your child can reduce symptoms by following an asthma action plan. This is a written plan you develop with your child's doctor to track symptoms and adjust treatment.

Asthma treatment in children improves day-to-day breathing, reduces asthma flare-ups and helps reduce other problems caused by asthma. With proper treatment, even severe asthma can be kept under control.

Asthma symptoms in children ages 5-11

Common asthma signs and symptoms in children ages 5 to 11 include:

  • Coughing, particularly at night
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain, tightness or discomfort
  • Avoiding or losing interest in sports or physical activities

Some children have few day-to-day symptoms, but have severe asthma attacks now and then. Other children have mild symptoms or symptoms that get worse at certain times. You may notice that your child's asthma symptoms get worse at night, with activity, when your child has a cold, or with triggers such as cigarette smoke or seasonal allergies.

Asthma emergencies

Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening and require a trip to the emergency room. Signs and symptoms of an asthma emergency in children ages 5 to 11 include:

  • Significant trouble breathing
  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • No improvement even after using a quick-relief inhaler, such as albuterol (ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA, others)
  • Being unable to speak without gasping
  • Peak flow meter readings in the red zone

Tests to diagnose and monitor asthma

For children 5 years of age and older, doctors can diagnose and monitor asthma with the same tests used for adults, such as spirometry and peak flow meters. They measure how much air your child can quickly force out of his or her lungs, an indication of how well the lungs are working.

Using a peak flow meter

The doctor may give your child a portable, hand-held device (peak flow meter) to measure how well his or her lungs are working. A peak flow meter measures how much air your child can quickly exhale.

Low readings indicate worsening asthma. You and your child may notice low peak flow readings before symptoms become apparent. This will help you recognize when to adjust treatment to prevent an asthma flare-up.

July 28, 2017 See more In-depth