Treating Asthma in Very Young Children
Asthma symptoms can appear to be mild or severe, but any asthma symptom is always serious. Even mild symptoms can quickly become life threatening. Poorly controlled and undiagnosed asthma can cause trips to the emergency room and hospital stays, missed work days for parents and suffering that little ones cannot express so it’s very important for your child to receive proper treatment.
An allergist is a doctor with special training and experience to diagnose and treat allergic diseases such as asthma.
Your child’s treatment will depend on how severe the symptoms are and how often they occur. The doctor may prescribe two types of medicines:
- Quick-relief: Any child who has asthma needs a quick-relief medicine to treat the noisy part of the disease — the coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath that occur with symptoms or an asthma attack. The medicine should be with the child at all times for use at the first sign of symptoms.
- Long-term control: This type of medicine is needed by some children to treat the quiet part of asthma — the inﬂammation of the airways. It is taken daily to prevent asthma symptoms and attacks.
Your child can take both medicines using an inhaler with a device called a holding chamber, or through a machine called a nebulizer that delivers the medicine through a mask. Your child’s doctor, nurse or pharmacist can teach you how to use both so you can determine what works best.
Asthma medicines are very safe and effective when used as directed. Some studies have suggested that continued use of long-term control medicines can slightly slow a child’s growth, but being able to breathe outweighs this risk.
If medications don't help or your child can't avoid asthma triggers, allergy shots may be an option and are often recommended.