If your child has asthma, you probably keep incredibly busy with peak flow meter charts, knowing and avoiding triggers, and keeping rescue inhalers always on hand. However, even at a very young age, it is good for your child to begin to take an active role in their own care. Read on to find out why teaching children to manage their own disease is so important.
Why Self-Management is So Important
Moms might worry about allowing their child to play an active role in managing their asthma, especially when they are young. However, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), good self-management skills can half the chances of hospitalization, reduce the number of ER and unscheduled MD visits, and improve both disease markers and overall quality of life. NPS MedicineWise also notes that, for children, good self-management can reduce the number of days lost from school and improve overall lung function.
What Self-Management Should Include
So what things should you emphasize when you are teaching your child to manage their asthma? According to the Asthma Handbook, these skills should include:
- Knowledge of how to use inhalers or nebulizers
- Using a peak flow meter chart or other similar tool to assess lung function daily
- Understanding what signs and symptoms indicate a flare-up or exacerbation
- Knowing what the individual asthma action plan is and having it written down
- Understanding why regular MD visits are important
Obviously, very young children will not be able to grasp all of this, but it is important for parents to realize that this education will be an ongoing process and some basic self- management techniques can be taught to even preschool age children.
General Tips on Asthma Self-Management
The Mayo Clinic, notes that when a parent is teaching their child to help manage their asthma, the most important thing is to make asthma care just another part of the daily routine so your child sees it as normal and necessary (like brushing their teeth). Focus in on your child's strengths and abilities as they grow and gain more self-management skills. Even during an exacerbation, keep your child involved in the process so they know what is happening. It is also important to have a written asthma action plan that you, your child, and important people in the child's life (like their teachers or school nurse) are all aware of.
So talk to your doctor about what self-management skills you can teach your child as they grow. This will help you both to better deal with this disease process from day to day and hopefully reduce emergency room visits and other consequences of a flare-up.