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Asthma needs an action plan

New guidelines from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology measure success by how well asthma is controlled on a daily basis, instead of the severity of the condition at the initial diagnosis. These guidelines also address medications, environmental triggers and education.

Asthamtic Woman

“Asthma is a shifting disease, and each patient should have a written ‘action plan’ outlining the steps to take under various circumstances. Parents need to know how much medicine it takes to achieve control,” says CHOC Children’s pediatric allergist Stanley Galant, M.D. “In the action plan, a child experiencing good control would be directed to continue to taking ‘controller’ medication to prevent symptoms and to maintain control. However, at the first sign of trouble, the plan would instruct parents to give their child ‘rescue’ medications. If that did not remedy the situation or if symptoms continued to worsen, the plan would instruct parents to call the doctor.”

Because allergy and asthma go hand-in-hand, the educational program should also include steps to minimize exposure to known allergens or irritants, such as dust mites, pet dander or tobacco smoke. Allergy shots may be helpful, too.

Winter Is Asthma Season

Kids with asthma have a tougher time during the fall and winter months. Respiratory infections, exercise and cold air may trigger an attack. Kids also spend more time inside, where they are exposed to indoor allergens and irritants. Dr. Galant recommends an annual flu shot for asthmatic children who are not allergic to eggs.

“The outlook for kids with asthma is very good,” Dr. Galant says. “With management, many kids can lead normal lives, and participate in both academic and physical activities.”

Could It Be Asthma?

Not sure if your child has asthma? Call your pediatrician if your child has the following symptoms:

  • Recurrent or chronic cough
  • Chronic or recurrent wheezing
  • Coughing or wheezing with exercise
  • Chest tightness or shortness of breath
  • Symptoms that dramatically improve with albuterol
  • Family history of allergy or asthma, especially mother
  • History of allergy, eczema or sneezing

Provided by Children’s Hospital of Orange County

About Children’s Hospital of Orange County

CHOC Children’s is exclusively committed to the health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients. Affiliated with the University of California, Irvine, CHOC’s regional healthcare network includes two state-of-the-art hospitals in Orange and Mission Viejo, several primary and specialty care clinics, a pediatric residency program, and four centers of excellence – The CHOC Children’s Heart, Cancer, Neuroscience, and Orthopaedic Institutes.

CHOC is one of only eight children’s hospitals in the nation named a “2009 Leapfrog Top Hospital.” CHOC earned the Silver Level CAPE Award from the California Council of Excellence, the only children’s hospital in California to ever earn this distinction, and was awarded Magnet designation, the highest honor bestowed to hospitals for nursing excellence. Recognized for extraordinary commitment to high-quality critical care standards, CHOC is the first children’s hospital in the United States to earn the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence. For more information about CHOC Children’s, visit

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