Caring for a child with asthma

Written by: Laura Baginski

If your child has asthma, or you suspect he or she might, you likely have a lot of questions about care and prevention. Dr. B. Louise Giles, an asthma expert at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, answers the most common parent questions. 
 
Is my child at risk for developing asthma? 
Your child is at greater risk if your family has a history of asthma and/or allergies, and if he or she was exposed to tobacco smoke before or after birth. Asthma is also overrepresented in black and Hispanic populations. 
 
If I suspect my child suffers from asthma, what can I do?
You can make an appointment at the clinic at Comer Children’s where we will conduct a thorough physical exam, take your child’s medical history and do age-appropriate testing, such as a lung X-ray, breathing and allergy tests. 
 
What happens next?
Next, we will create an asthma action plan, which may include medications and devices to help reduce inflammation and relax muscle cells in the airway. It is important that your child takes all medication as prescribed, even if he/she is feeling well.
 
What are the symptoms of childhood asthma?
Symptoms include wheezing sounds while breathing, difficulty catching a breath, and a cough that’s unusual or comes at specific times such as nighttime or during exercise. 
 
What can trigger an asthma attack? 
Triggers include viral infections such as the flu, exposure to allergens such as pets, cold weather and bad air quality. For children suffering from an acute asthma attack, Comer Children’s offers state-of-the-art emergency and inpatient care. 
 
When should we go to the emergency room? 
Go to the emergency room if you’re worried about your child’s breathing. Warning signs may include off-color skin tone, a cough that prevents eating or drinking, and the need to take medications more often than prescribed. 
 
Are there lifestyle changes we should make if our child is diagnosed with asthma? 
Remove carpets, stuffed animals or anything that harbors allergens, and vacuum floors frequently. If your child is allergic to the family dog or cat, find another home for the pet or bathe it more often. If anyone smokes, quit.
 
If you have a child with asthma or your child has problems with their breathing, call UCM Connect at 888-824-0200 for an appointment. Visit uchicagokidshospital.org/asthma to learn more.
 
Posted on September 22, 2015 at 4:03 PM