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What is Project BREATHE?

Asthma is a condition in which a child’s airways swell and produce extra mucus, making it difficult to breathe.  Asthma can't be cured, but with proper care it can be controlled. If a child ends up in the emergency room or is admitted for asthma, we provide them with an educational brochure to help them better manage their condition and avoid a future return to the hospital; an asthma nurse will go over all of the information in the brochure with the patient and parent.

This Asthma Educational Program is known as Project BREATHE, and it has significantly improved our patients’ control of their asthma, decreasing admissions to the hospital, emergency room visits and the frequency of exacerbations.  Below is some of the information our asthma specialists will go over with you to keep your child safe.

Asthma medications

Daily controller medicines

Your child’s doctor may prescribe daily controller medicines to help prevent asthma episodes. It’s important for your child to take their daily control medicine every day to prevent attacks. The daily controller medicine is an anti-inflammatory, meaning it helps to control and prevent swelling inside the airways that cause asthma symptoms. This medicine must be taken every day as prescribed, even if your child is feeling fine. This is the medicine that stops the asthma from coming back.

Tips on taking the daily controller medicine:

– Never take more than prescribed

– Follow your child’s asthma action plan

– Have your child rinse their mouth after use, or take it before brushing teeth in the morning and at night

– Always use a spacer for inhalers

– Don’t stop taking these medicines without talking to your child’s doctor first

Rescue medicine

If your child has been diagnosed with exercise induced asthma (asthma symptoms triggered by strenuous activity), speak to their doctor about pre-medicating with a rescue inhaler before exercise. Rescue medicine helps when your child is having an asthma episode. It is used for the quick relief of asthma symptoms (usually within 10 to 15 minutes). Rescue medicine helps to relax the muscles around the airways that tighten during an episode, which helps the person breathe easier.

Tips on taking the rescue medicine:

– The rescue medicine should only be taken when your child is having symptoms of an asthma attack (coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath)

– Always use a spacer with the rescue inhaler

– Keep the rescue medicine with you and your child at all times (you should always have a spare)

– Call the doctor if symptoms occur two or more times a week, or if there are nighttime awakenings two or more times a month

– The rescue inhaler should last at least six months (if it is not being used frequently for exercise induced asthma)

Avoid triggers

People with asthma have very sensitive airways and can experience asthma symptoms when exposed to usually harmless substances. Finding out your child’s triggers for an asthma episode can be very helpful in avoiding them. Some common triggers include:

Allergic triggers:

  • Secondhand and thirdhand smoke
  • Animal allergens
  • Molds
  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Cockroaches and rodents

Non-allergic triggers:

  • Airway infections
  • Strong odors and fumes
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Changes in weather
  • Exercise
  • Emotions

Ask us about ways you can avoid these triggers.

Know the symptoms

We understand that watching your child struggle to breathe during an asthma attack is scary. But there are ways for you, the parent or caregiver, to treat the symptoms before things get bad. Knowing the warning signs and what to do when they appear will help avoid dangerous situations and trips to the emergency room. (Remember: Don't wait for an emergency. Treat the warning signs as they happen.)

Green zone: There are no warning signs or symptoms, and your child feels good. If your child has been prescribed a controller medication, it is important to take it every day to stay in the green zone.

Yellow zone: There are early warning signs, which may include:

– Coughing (may be worse at night, early morning or with exercise)

– Wheezing

– Chest tightness

– First signs of a cold

– Itchy, runny nose and/or itchy, sore throat

Be proactive instead of reactive. Treat the early warning signs as prescribed before they get worse.

Red zone:  It is an emergency when there are late warning signs, which may include:

– Breathing hard and fast, nose flares out

– Retractions or sinking in of skin at neck and between ribs

– Grunting

– Difficulty walking and/or talking

– Gray or blue lips or fingernails

In the case of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

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