(GETTYIMAGES)If your child has asthma, it can seem like youre fighting an invisible enemy. Youngsters with asthma often seem perfectly healthy, just like any other kid. But things most children can shrug offa simple cold or a bout of exercisecan land the asthmatic child in the hospital if the respiratory disease is not well controlled by medication.
Whats so maddening, as a parent, is not knowing if you have a lid on asthma. When that trigger comesbe it mold, pollen, dust, a cold, or pet catwill your childs asthma escalate out of control?
The bottom line is, its hard to tellbut not impossible. Your child may be coughing at night, but there are ways to tell how much coughing is too much. And, sure, your child may need to use a rescue inhaler, but if he or she needs it too often, its an indicator that he or she could be edging into the danger zone.
If your child is ages 5 to 11, you can use this assessment tool to help determine if his or her asthma is under control. (This tool, which was adapted from asthma guidelines issued by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, in 2007, is not designed to replace a consultation with a doctor. Nor should it be used for children under age 5 or 12 and older.)
1 . My child has asthma symptoms such as coughing or wheezing:
A. No more than two days each week and never more than once a day (+1 point)
B. Several times a day on at least two days a week, or more than two days each week (+2 points)
C. Throughout the day (+3 points)
2 . My child has coughing or has wheezing that wakes him or her up at night:
A. Once a month or less (+1 point)
B. Twice a month or more (+2 points)
C. Twice a week or more (+3 points)
3 . My child needs to use his or her rescue inhaler or nebulizer:
A. Two days a week or less (+1 point)
B. More than two days each week (+2 points)
C. Several times per day (+3 points)
4 . When it comes to my childs daily life, asthma symptoms:
A. Never limit his or her activities (+1 point)
B. Cause some limitation (+2 points)
C. Extremely limit activity (+3 points)
5 . My child has had asthma symptoms so severe he or she needs a course of oral corticosteroids:
A. One time per year or not at all (+1 point)
B. More than twice per year (+3 points)
If your score is 5 points:
Based on symptoms alone, experts would consider your childs asthma to be under control. You should make sure your child continues to take medication carefully and correctly, and be sure to see your doctor within one to six months. Another way to measure asthma control is to check peak flow, which can be done at home with a peak flow meter. If peak flow is more than 80% of your childs personal best, asthma is under control. If its 80% or less, asthma is not well controlled.
If your score is 6 points or more:
Based on symptoms alone, your score suggests that your childs asthma is not as well controlled as it could be. Talk with your doctor as soon as possible to see if your child is taking the right amount and type of medication. Another way to measure asthma control is to check peak flow, which can be done at home with a peak flow meter. If peak flow is more than 80% of your childs personal best, asthma is under control. If its 80% or less, asthma is not well controlled.