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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 he or she is not alone. Asthma is a common condition among children and teens in the U.S. According to the CDC, 7.4% of adults and 8.6% of children in the U.S. have asthma.

  • Even though asthma management can be disruptive, 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 he or she understands that with good management, most flare-ups can be avoided.

  • Let your child help prepare and update his or her asthma action plan. He or she should work with a healthcare provider as much as possible. This will show your teen that you respect and trust him or her. Make sure your teen knows the following:

    • What triggers his or her asthma symptoms. Your teen should also start to take responsibility for avoiding triggers.

    • How to monitor 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 must be taken even when your teen feels well.

    • To stay away from tobacco products and second-hand smoke.

  • Ask your child how much support he or she wants from you. Then let your healthcare provider help decide how much freedom is appropriate and safe. Let your teen know that freedom comes from proving that he or she can manage with little help. Make sure you and your child understand the rules surrounding self-treatment at school and that your teen feels 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. Learning how to manage asthma on his or her own is an important step toward being a responsible, healthy adult.

Support and information for you

  • Get support from other parents, your child's provider, or 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 the printed information and website addresses. Ask healthcare providers for asthma resources, like books, games, or videos for teens. That way, your teen gets the information from others besides you.

Online Medical Reviewer: Adler, Liora C., MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
Last Review Date: 9/1/2016
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