The pediatric pulmonologists at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital know that asthma is a serious disease that affects millions of children across the country. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism. That’s why we lead a collaborative asthma program aimed at reducing the rate of hospitalization for children with asthma. This program brings together hospital-based and community resources for families of asthmatic children.
Reducing Asthma Flare-Ups
Asthma is not preventable, but keeping it under control can help your child live a normal life. Avoiding things that trigger asthma symptoms in your child is one of the best ways to reduce the occurrence of flare-ups.
Cold and flu can contribute to asthma symptoms, so be sure everyone in your family washes their hands, avoids contact with sick people and does not share food, drinks or utensils. It is strongly recommended that your child and all family members receive the flu vaccine every year.
Follow these tips to reduce asthma irritating allergens in your home:
- Use special allergen cases for mattresses and pillows and wash bed linens in hot water each week.
- Use bedding made of synthetic materials instead of feather/down-filled comforters and pillows.
- Use HEPA filters in your home and opt for running the air conditioner instead of opening windows.
- Keep pets out of your child’s bedroom, and if the pets remain in the home, make sure to bathe them weekly. All family member should wash their hands after handling or playing with pets.
- Tile or hardwood floors are best. If it is not possible to remove carpeting, vacuum at least once a week.
- Clean any visible mold and keep the humidity level low in the home.
- Stuffed animals should be machine washable or place them in an airtight container in the freezer for six hours once a week.
- Irritants including menthol vapor rubs, smoke, chemicals in the air and aerosols are common asthma triggers. Avoid smoke filled places and do not smoke or let anyone else smoke in your home or car. Use unscented liquid or solid bath soaps and hair products instead of sprays. When cooking, use a stove vent to get rid of any fumes.
- Changes in weather, seasonal changes or rainy weather can cause some children to have an asthma flare-up. Watch the weather forecast to take preventative measures.
- Food and medication allergies can trigger an asthma flare-up. Avoid items that your child is allergic to by reading food and drug labels.
Have an Asthma Action Plan and Take Medication as Prescribed
An asthma action plan is a written document specifically for managing your child’s asthma. When your child is having asthma symptoms, the action plan helps you and other caregivers know what to do. Make sure to share your child’s asthma action plan with anyone involved in the care of your child.
Asthma medications fall into one of two categories based on how they work:
- “Rescue” medications work rapidly and are used only if needed.
- “Controller” medications are taken every day to prevent the majority of asthma episodes. If your child has frequent need for rescue medications, they may have controller medicines prescribed.
When your child needs asthma care, four doctors and two nurse practitioners make up the core of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital pulmonology team, providing outpatient clinic services at the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Outpatient Care centers located in Brandon, East Lake, Pasco, Sarasota, South Tampa, Tampa, and St. Petersburg. Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital also provides inpatient asthma care that works closely with the Pediatric Emergency Room, Pediatric ICU and medical staff. A team of nurse educators works with each family to teach asthma care with audiovisual resources and face-to-face meetings.