Lifestyle and home remedies
Taking steps to reduce your child's exposure to his or her asthma triggers will lessen the possibility of asthma attacks. Steps to help avoid triggers vary depending on what triggers your child's asthma. Here are some things that may help:
- Maintain low humidity at home. If you live in a damp climate, talk to your child's doctor about using a device to keep the air drier (dehumidifier).
- Keep indoor air clean. Have a heating and air conditioning professional check your air conditioning system every year. Change the filters in your furnace and air conditioner according to the manufacturer's instructions. Also consider installing a small-particle filter in your ventilation system.
- Reduce pet dander. If your child is allergic to dander, it's best to avoid pets with fur or feathers. Regularly bathing or grooming your pets also may reduce the amount of dander in your surroundings.
- Use your air conditioner. Air conditioning helps reduce the amount of airborne pollen from trees, grasses and weeds that finds its way indoors. Air conditioning also lowers indoor humidity and can reduce your child's exposure to dust mites. If you don't have air conditioning, try to keep your windows closed during pollen season.
- Keep dust to a minimum. Reduce dust that may aggravate nighttime symptoms by replacing certain items in your bedroom. For example, encase pillows, mattresses and box springs in dust-proof covers. Consider removing carpeting and installing hard flooring, particularly in your child's bedroom. Use washable curtains and blinds.
- Clean regularly. Clean your home at least once a week to remove dust and allergens.
- Reduce your child's exposure to cold air. If your child's asthma is worsened by cold, dry air, wearing a face mask outside can help.
Coping and support
It can be stressful to help your child manage his or her asthma. Keep these tips in mind to make life as normal as possible:
- Make treatment a regular part of life. If your child has to take daily medication, don't make a big deal out of it — it should be as routine as eating breakfast or brushing teeth.
Use a written asthma action plan. Work with your child's doctor to develop your child's action plan, and give a copy of it to all of your child's caregivers, such as child care providers, teachers, coaches and the parents of your child's friends.
Following a written plan can help you and your child identify symptoms early, providing important information on how to treat your child's asthma from day to day and how to deal with an asthma attack.
- Be encouraging. Focus attention on the things your child can do, not on the things he or she can't. Involve teachers, school nurses, coaches, relatives and friends in helping your child manage asthma. Encourage normal play and activity. Don't limit your child's activities out of fear of an asthma attack — work with your child's doctor to control exercise-induced symptoms.
- Be calm and in control when facing asthma symptoms. Don't get rattled if you see asthma symptoms getting worse. Focus on your child's asthma action plan and involve your child in each step so that he or she understands what's happening.
- Talk to other parents of children with asthma. Chat rooms and message boards on the Internet or a local support group can connect you with parents facing similar challenges and let you know that you and your child are not alone in dealing with asthma.
- Help your child connect with others who have asthma. Send your child to "asthma camp" or find other organized activities for children with asthma. This can help your child feel less isolated and help him or her gain a better understanding of asthma and its treatment.
Careful planning and steering clear of asthma triggers are the best ways to prevent asthma attacks.
- Limit exposure to asthma triggers. Be proactive in helping your child avoid the allergens and irritants that trigger asthma symptoms.
- Don't allow smoking around your child. Exposure to tobacco smoke during infancy is a strong risk factor for childhood asthma, as well as a common trigger of asthma attacks.
- Encourage your child to be active. As long as your child's asthma is well-controlled, regular physical activity can condition the lungs to work more efficiently.
- See the doctor when necessary. Check in on a regular basis. Don't ignore signs that your child's asthma may not be under control, such as needing to use a quick-relief inhaler too often. Asthma changes over time. Consulting your child's doctor can help you make any needed treatment adjustments to keep symptoms under control.
- Help your child maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can worsen asthma symptoms, and it puts your child at risk of other health problems.
- Keep heartburn under control. Acid reflux or severe heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) may worsen your child's asthma symptoms. He or she may need over-the-counter or prescription medications to control acid reflux.