When You've Done the Best You Can
The unfortunate thing about asthma is that sometimes, even if you do everything right, the asthma still gets bad and you need to seek medical help. Here are some signs to watch for:
- Your child is having trouble breathing and is not getting better with the medicines you have. This is respiratory distress.
- Children breathing greater than 50 breathes a minute. (Ask your doctor about this, because each age group is different.) Get out your stopwatch or second-hand watch and count the breaths in a one-minute time span.
- Children will heave when they breathe. You only need to see this once to never forget it. Have your doctor demonstrate, if needed.
- Children will look and feel uncomfortable. They will have difficulty talking without taking many breaths.
- If your child's skin changes color, for example, turns blue, go to an emergency room immediately or call 911.
If you use the red, yellow, and green plan, set the length of time with your doctor that it is okay to be in each zone. Usually I tell my patients, if they don't see signs of distress (see above), I like to see them after two to three days in the yellow zone, especially if the child is not improving. Any moment in the red zone is too long and needs to be treated right away.
Asthma can be a frustrating problem for you and your child, but the more that you understand about how it affects your child, the better you can control it. Learn your child's triggers. Learn the medicines that your child needs and how your child should respond to these medicines. Most of all, learn how to talk with your doctor about your child's asthma in a way that both of you are comfortable. Set a treatment plan together for your child's attacks. Take the time, while your child is healthy, to prepare for the time that he or she is not.