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Asthma health centre

How bad is my child's asthma?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

There is no formal way of grading asthma in children in the UK. But your GP may describe your child's asthma as 'mild' or 'severe' depending on how often your child gets symptoms and how bad these symptoms are. For example, if your child has mild asthma, he or she might get symptoms more than once a week, but not every day. If your child's asthma is more severe, he or she may get symptoms most days and sometimes at night.

Some children have what doctors call brittle or difficult to treat asthma. These children need to take high doses of preventer drugs (usually steroids), and they also often need to use a reliever (the blue inhaler). These children's symptoms may also get very bad quite suddenly, and they may need to be treated in hospital.

Your GP may also talk about how bad your child's asthma is according to the treatments needed to control it. [11] Doctors talk about steps. Each step shows what treatment your child needs to control his or her asthma. Asthma that is Step 1 needs the fewest treatments. Asthma that is Step 5 needs the most treatments.

This is what the different steps mean:

StepMedicines needed to control asthma
Step 1Your child sometimes needs to use a reliever (usually in a blue inhaler).
Step 2Your child needs to use a preventer treatment (usually a low-dose steroid in an inhaler) as well as a reliever (usually in a blue inhaler).
Step 3Your child needs an extra treatment on top of the steroid inhalers in Step 2. This is usually a medicine called salmeterol or formoterol from an inhaler.
Step 4Your child needs a higher dose of inhaled steroid as well as Step 3 treatments.
Step 5Your child needs to take steroid tablets regularly. He or she should be seen by a hospital doctor who specialises in asthma in children (called a respiratory paediatrician).

Doctors in the UK use the stepwise approach to treating asthma. [11] They talk about 'stepping up' treatment when they increase the dose or the number of treatments your child needs. If your child's asthma is under control, your GP may reduce the dose or take some treatments away. This is called 'stepping down'. Your GP will always try to give your child the smallest amount of treatments that keep his or her asthma under control.


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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