Asthma Management Handbook
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Table. Childhood asthma education checklist



What is asthma?

Breathing tubes (airways) in the lungs are abnormally sensitive or inflamed

Wheezing and breathlessness – caused by narrowing of airways due to contraction of smooth muscle in airway wall, swelling of lining of airways, increased mucus secretion into airway

Long-term condition – asthma is still there even when the child does not have current symptoms

Asthma triggers

Smoke-free car and home, avoid smoke anywhere else

Common factors that can trigger children’s asthma (e.g. colds, exercise, allergens, tobacco smoke)

Which triggers to avoid


How they work – opens breathing tubes (airways) wider so it is easier to breathe

Not for long-term use – works immediately, but only for a few hours

Should only be used when the child has symptoms, or before exercise if prescribed for exercise-induced bronchoconstriction – should not be used at other times ‘just in case

Using reliever too often is a sign that the child’s asthma is poorly controlled – the child may need a regular preventer.

Not necessary to use reliever before using preventer and this should not be a regular habit


Which medicines are preventers – inhaled corticosteroids, montelukast, or combination of inhaled corticosteroid and long-acting beta2 agonist

How they work – mainly by settling down the inflammation in the airways; some also help keep narrow airways open

Must be taken regularly to work properly

Possible side effects of inhaled corticosteroids and how to reduce them:

  • follow directions closely
  • use a spacer with puffers
  • rinse mouth and spit after use

(For children on long-term high dose inhaled corticosteroid only) what to do if child develops symptoms consistent with adrenal insufficiency, such as lethargy, vomiting, abdominal pain or seizures (e.g. go to the emergency department without delay, tell staff that the child is using regular high-dose medicine for asthma, and hand them the child’s steroid alert card/letter).

How to take asthma medicines (inhalers and spacers)

When to use a spacer:

  • always with salbutamol inhalers during flare-ups
  • always with inhaled corticosteroid when using manually actuated pressurised metered-dose inhalers (puffers)

How to use the particular inhaler device properly:

  • demonstration (with spacer if relevant)
  • watch the child or parent/carer perform each step

(Children taking inhaled corticosteroids) rinse mouth with water and spit after each dose

How to clean and care for inhalers and spacers

Asthma safety

Always carry reliever

Never let your reliever run out – have one for use and a spare ready

When to take reliever (when breathless, before exercise if child gets exercise-induced bronchoconstriction)

When to see a doctor (worsening asthma, symptoms return within 4 hours)

When to call an ambulance (breathing not normal after taking reliever)

Written asthma action plan

Written asthma action plan for child and parents/carers – explain how to use it


Plan for other carers

Asthma plan for child’s school or childcare centre (separate, purpose-designed, current plan)


Parents/carers or patients may not take in or remember all the information at once. Use everyday language and provide written information.

Provide more detailed information for children with difficult-to-treat asthma, severe asthma or comorbid conditions.

Last reviewed version 2.0

Asset ID: 30