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Asthma health centre

How asthma in children is treated

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Every child's asthma is different. So the medicine your child takes may well be different from what another child takes. [11]

The treatment your child has depends on:

  • How often they get symptoms

  • How bad their symptoms are

  • How well the treatments have worked.

Most children with asthma use an inhaler

Your child will probably have an inhaler to use when they get symptoms. This is called a reliever and it's usually in a blue canister. It contains a drug called salbutamol or terbutaline.

  • Your child will usually need two, three, or four puffs on the inhaler to relieve their symptoms.

  • Your child should carry this inhaler with them all the time.

  • If your child gets symptoms less than once a week, this may be all the treatment they need.

  • To learn about how to use an inhaler and other devices for taking asthma drugs, see How to take asthma drugs.

If your child gets symptoms three times a week or more
  • They will probably have a steroid inhaler. This is a preventer. It usually comes in a brown, cream, red, or orange inhaler. It helps your child's lungs work better so they don't get so many asthma symptoms.

  • Your child will usually use this inhaler once or twice a day.

  • The dose of steroids your child needs will depend on how often they get symptoms and how bad these are.

If your child has tried using two inhalers but is still getting symptoms
  • They can try another treatment called salmeterol. This may help to better control your child's symptoms. Your child must use this type of inhaler only with a steroid inhaler. Using it on its own can be dangerous.

  • Or your child can take tablets to help prevent symptoms. Your child may be prescribed leukotriene antagonists or theophylline tablets. They should keep using their steroid inhaler while they're taking these pills.

  • If these don't help, your child may be given a higher dose of steroids to breathe in through an inhaler.

Changing your child's treatment
  • Your GP or practice nurse will usually see your child at least once a year to check that their asthma is under control.

  • If your child's symptoms don't happen often, they may be able to take a lower dose of their medicine. And if they've been getting symptoms often, they may need a higher dose. Doctors call this the 'stepwise' approach to treating asthma. If your child needs a higher dose, it's called 'stepping up'. If they can control their asthma with a lower dose, it's called 'stepping down'. To learn more, see How bad is my child's asthma?

  • Doctors and nurses try to treat asthma with the lowest dose of each medicine. The lower the dose, the less likely your child is to get side effects.


For references related to Asthma in children click here.
Last Updated: July 03, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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