Helping Your Teen Manage Asthma
Having asthma isn't easy—and for most kids, neither is being a teen. You can help your teen with information and support.
Providing support and information
Make sure your teen understands they are not alone. Asthma is a common condition among children and teens in the U.S. According to the CDC, more than 2 in 25 U.S. children age 5 to 17 years old have asthma.
Asthma management can be disruptive. But try to keep things as normal as possible.
Your teen may not believe or understand how serious flare-ups can be. Talk about what can actually happen. Make sure you also discuss your teen's fears. Be honest but provide reassurance. And make sure they understand that, with good management, most flare-ups can be prevented.
Let your child help prepare and update their Asthma Action Plan. Your child should work with a healthcare provider as much as possible to do this. Your teen should always take their Asthma Action Plan to each visit with a healthcare provider for a review or updates, if needed. Make sure your teen knows the following:
What triggers their asthma symptoms. Your teen should also start to take responsibility for staying away from triggers.
How to watch for changing symptoms. This might be using a peak-flow meter or by watching closely for early symptoms.
What to do if symptoms start to worsen. And what to do if symptoms become severe.
The importance of taking controller medicines as instructed. These medicines are usually taken even when your teen feels well. Discuss with your child's healthcare provider the correct medicines they should use to control their asthma.
To stay away from tobacco products, e-cigarettes or similar devices, and secondhand smoke.
Ask your child how much support they want from you. Then let the healthcare provider help decide how much freedom is appropriate and safe. Let your teen know that freedom comes from proving that they can manage with little help. Make sure you and your child understand the rules about self-treatment at school. Your teen should feel empowered to let someone know if their asthma is doing poorly.
Handing over some asthma management to your teen may not be easy. You can do it in small steps. This will also show your teen that you respect and trust them Learning how to manage asthma on their own is an important step toward being a responsible, healthy adult.
Support and information for you
Get support from other parents, your child's healthcare provider, or their nurse. The American Lung Association even has an online support community. The website is www.lung.org.
Make sure you are educated about asthma. And share what you know with your teen. That includes printed information and website addresses. Ask healthcare providers for asthma resources, such as books, games, or videos for teens. That way, your teen gets the information from others besides you.