You are here

Welcome

Asthma can be challenging to manage in children and teenagers. While it can’t be cured, it can be controlled. This tool helps you and your child talk with your allergist to decide what treatments will help your child best manage their severe asthma. If you are a pre-teen or older, you can use this tool either on your own or with a parent so you can fully participate when you talk to your allergist about what asthma treatment will work best for you.

The tool is easy to use:

  1. Read about different treatment options.
  2. Respond to a few simple statements based on your child’s temperament and preferences.
  3. Print out your answers and bring them to your child’s next appointment.

Let’s get started! Because treatment varies by age, first, click on your child’s age:

Infant to Age 5 Years Ages 6 to 17 Years

Note: The information and materials here are intended solely for the general information of the reader. They are not to be used for treatment purposes, but rather for discussion with the child’s allergist. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose health problems or take the place of professional medical care.

About Severe Asthma

If your child has asthma, he or she is not alone. More than 6 million children and teenagers in the United States have asthma, meaning the tubes in their lungs become easily inflamed and close down when exposed to certain triggers like inhaling pollen or catching a cold or other respiratory infection. Asthma may make it hard for your child to breathe, which can be frightening. Or your child may have a cough that just won’t go away or be unable to fully participate in activities. If that is happening often, your child may have severe, uncontrolled asthma. Factors that can worsen asthma include indoor or outdoor allergens, cigarette smoke, air pollution, respiratory viruses and weather changes.

While there is no cure, there are many therapies that are effective. But it is very important that your child uses medications as directed so he or she can go to school, participate in activities and get a good night’s sleep (which will help you be well-rested and avoid missing work, too). However, if your child uses asthma treatment as directed and has one or more of the following symptoms, it may be time to consider more advanced therapy:

  • Needs asthma quick relief medications (such as albuterol) two or more times a week
  • Wakes at night coughing and wheezing
  • Frequently coughs and/or wheezes during the day
  • Has recently used oral steroid pills or liquids
  • Has recently visited the emergency room or been hospitalized

Your allergist will help you find an advanced treatment that will work best for your child.

Treatments for Severe Asthma

There are three treatment options for children age 0-5 whose asthma is severe and uncontrolled. They typically involve adding extra medication to the inhaled steroids (ICS) your child may already use.

This chart explains more about these treatments.

Print

How are they used?

Higher dose of inhaled steroids (ICS)ICS with leukotriene receptor antagonistsICS with long-acting beta agonists
Once or twice daily via:

Metered dose inhaler or nebulizer
Chewable tablet given once a day in addition to once or twice daily ICS using metered dose inhaler or nebulizer Twice a day combined with ICS in a metered dose inhaler

Ask the allergist if the device is appropriate for your child

What are the advantages?

Higher dose of inhaled steroids (ICS)ICS with leukotriene receptor antagonistsICS with long-acting beta agonists
Decreases asthma flare-ups

Improves lung function

Improves quality of life
Decreases asthma flare-ups

Improves lung function

Easier to take because they are chewable and taste good
Decreases asthma flare-ups

Improves lung function

May allow lower dose of ICS

What are the possible side effects and disadvantages?

Higher dose of inhaled steroids (ICS)ICS with leukotriene receptor antagonistsICS with long-acting beta agonists
Decreased growth of less than one inch in some patients

Sore throat (rare)

Hoarseness (rare)

Yeast infection of the mouth (rare)

Bone thinning, bruising, eye problems (very rare)
In addition to ICS side effects:

Stomach pain (rare)

Headache (rare)

Diarrhea (rare)

Mood swings, unusual dreams (rare)

Psychiatric effects such as hyperactivity, excessive sleepiness, fear of the dark, nervousness, agitation and hallucination (rare)
In addition to ICS side effects:

Fast heart rate

Shaking of hands, arms, legs or other parts of the body

Headache (rare)

What is the cost of treatment?

Higher dose of inhaled steroids (ICS)ICS with leukotriene receptor antagonistsICS with long-acting beta agonists
($)

Financial assistance may be available – ask your allergist

Work with your allergist to determine what it will cost based on your insurance
($$$$)

Financial assistance may be available – ask your allergist

Work with your allergist to determine what it will cost based on your insurance
($$$$)

Financial assistance may be available – ask your allergist

Work with your allergist to determine what it will cost based on your insurance

What else should I know?

Higher dose of inhaled steroids (ICS)ICS with leukotriene receptor antagonistsICS with long-acting beta agonists
ICS have been used to treat asthma for a long time and are the gold standard treatment: when inhaled, they do not cause the same body-wide effects as steroid pills or liquidMay decrease stuffy, runny nose due to allergiesShould always be used with ICS

Does not replace quick relief inhaler for asthma attacks

The next step is to talk about these treatments with your child’s allergist. To help you figure out what might work best for your child, answer the following statements, choosing Yes or No.

Your responses are below. Please print this page out and share it with your allergist.

Yes

No

I am willing to pay for newer medication for my child

I am worried about steroids

I think my child might get addicted or build up a tolerance to asthma medicines

My child always has a stuffy nose

My child seems depressed

I am very concerned about my child’s growth and development

My child does better with chewable medications

All done!

It’s time to take control of your child’s asthma so they can start enjoying life again. It’s time to find an allergist.

Print out your answers and bring them to your child’s next appointment with the allergist.

Print Your Answers

Note: The information and materials here are intended solely for the general information of the reader. They are not to be used for treatment purposes, but rather for discussion with the child’s allergist. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose health problems or take the place of professional medical care.

In partnership with

Supported by