Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the lung's air passages that can make it difficult for your child to breathe. Its severity varies from child to child. There is no cure for asthma and it will not go away, but there are very good treatments to control it. The pediatric experts in the Sutter Health network are specially trained to diagnose, treat and help your child manage asthma.
Having asthma doesn't mean children have to miss out on outdoor or high-energy ativities. In fact, most kids with asthma can fully participate in all childhood activities, including playing sports. By working with a pediatric asthma specialist, your child’s asthma can be easily managed.
What is an Asthma Flare-up?
During normal breathing, air moves in and out of the lungs through air passages, bringing oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of the body. During an asthma attack or flare-up, muscle spasms constrict and tighten the airways and cause the air passages to become narrower or blocked, making it harder for air to get in and out. Air flow is also blocked by inflammation (swelling), which thickens the airway walls and creates mucus and phlegm inside the airways. Both the spasms and the inflammation make it hard to breathe.
Symptoms of an asthma flare-up include:
- Chest tightness that makes it hard to breathe
- Waking up at night coughing
- Extra phlegm and mucus
The foundation for an effective treatment plan is an accurate diagnosis. Because asthma symptoms are common symptoms for other disorders, your pediatric asthma expert may perform a wide range of thorough diagnostic tests to rule out other diseases. Many Sutter labs offer state-of-the-art diagnostic technologies, including equipment for infant and pediatric pulmonary function testing.
Part of our diagnostic process includes identifying what triggers your child’s asthma attacks or flare-ups. A variety of triggers can cause flare-ups to come on suddenly and progress quickly. Identifying these triggers can help reduce symptoms.
Your pediatric asthma specialist will work closely with you and your child to develop a customized treatment plan that may include inhaled asthma medications.
Your child’s doctor will also help you create an Asthma Action Plan, which helps children keep their asthma under control by reminding them what triggers to avoid, which medicines to take and when to take them.
Asthma Action Plans are also useful for teaching family members, care givers, teachers, coaches and others how to help your child during an asthma flare-up. Plan to review and update your child’s Asthma Action Plan at every visit with your pediatrician.
- Asthma Control Test (12 Years and Older) English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)
- Asthma Control Test (4 to 11 Years) English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)
- Asthma School Form (PDF)
- Asthma Checkup Questionnaire (PDF)
- Maximizing Your Asthma Care
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: Asthma Resources