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Asthma treatments for children

How is asthma treated in children?

Treatment for a child's asthma will be designed to control symptoms and help prevent attacks.

This will be detailed in a written personal asthma action plan which will be agreed with the child's asthma nurse or doctor.

Treatment is likely to involve medication, as well as advice on avoiding asthma triggers.

The child's school and other carers will need to know what to do in the event of the child having an asthma emergency.

What asthma medicines can children take?

If an infant or child is experiencing symptoms of asthma requiring treatment with a bronchodilator medicine more than twice a week, most doctors recommend daily anti-inflammatory medicine.

Most asthma medicines that are given to adults and older children can also safely be prescribed to toddlers and younger children. Medicines that are approved for younger children are given in doses adjusted for their age and weight. In the case of inhaled medicines, a different delivery device based on the child's age and ability may be required. This is because many children are not able to coordinate their breathing well enough to use a standard inhaler.

How do I give my child asthma medicine?

Your child may be able to use a metered dose inhaler (MDI) with a spacer. A spacer is a chamber that attaches to the MDI and holds the dose of medicine. Talk with your child's doctor to see if an MDI with a spacer is right for your child.

If your child can not manage the above, then a dry powder inhaler may be considered.

Nebulised therapy delivers liquid medicine as a mist to breathe in through a face mask. This may be used in children younger than five years if the MDI with a spacer is not effective, or your child’s condition requires this treatment. The nebulised treatment takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes and is given several times a day. Your child’s GP will tell you how often to give your child the nebuliser depending on the severity of the asthma.

How do I know when my child's asthma is controlled?

You know your child's asthma is controlled if, with medicines, your child:

  • Lives an active, normal life
  • Has few troublesome symptoms
  • Attends school every day
  • Performs daily activities without difficulty
  • Has no urgent visits to the doctor or hospital for asthma

By learning about asthma and how it can be controlled, you can take an important step towards managing your child's condition. Work closely with your child's asthma care team to learn all you can about asthma, how to avoid triggers, what medications do, and how to correctly administer them. With correct management, your child can live free of asthma symptoms and maintain a normal, healthy lifestyle.

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