Dust: Dust mites are the hidden enemy. Some techniques for fighting dust can get costly, but start at the cheap things and move up, depending on the severity of your child's asthma.
- Try to make the rooms where you spend the most time as dust free as possible. Most people sleep eight to 12 hours a day, so work on the bedroom first.
- Keep the bedrooms especially free of clutter (stuffed animals, decorations, trophies, etc.) that can accumulate dust and can be hard to clean.
- Mattress covers and pillow covers are cheap and very effective. HEPA air filters and HEPA vacuum bags can get a little pricey, but can work very well, too.
- Change the heating and air conditioner filters every one to three months. They are cheap and easy to change.
- If you have carpeted floors, consider changing to tile or hard wood. This can be pricey, but the change can make a big difference.
Pets: We love them, but they can wreak havoc on our asthmatic love ones.
- Try to keep them out of the bedrooms and off the beds.
- It is much easier to choose not to bring a pet in to the household than to remove it once it's there. Choose your pets wisely.
The Red, Yellow, and Green Plan
Now your child is having an attack. How do you know how bad the attack is? Should you head right in to your doctor's office or tough it out for a while? A great way to gauge the severity of your child's asthma attack is with a peak-flow meter. A peak-flow meter is a small tube-shaped instrument that measures how hard your child can blow into it. Most children six years old and older can use them, and I have even seen some three-year-olds who can do it pretty well. It will give you and your doctor an important measurement of the severity of the attack. You can get a peak-flow meter from your doctor or pharmacist. Have your pharmacist or doctor show you how to use the peak-flow meter properly.
Measuring your child's peak flow: The red, yellow, and green plan is based on your child's peak-flow maximum, or best all-time measurement.
- Choose a week when your child is feeling well.
- Measure your child's peak flows three times a day over one to two weeks.
- Record your child's peak flows in a log and determine the highest number.
- This is your child's peak flow max (PFmax).
- If your child gets a higher number, this is your new peak flow max. The number usually will go higher as your child grows in height.