Talking About Asthma

Do You Have Trouble Talking About Asthma With People Caring For Your Child

Child With Inhaler
Child With Inhaler. Photo courtesy of NIH (Public domain)

Do you find talking about asthma with other parent or teachers, or coaches difficult?

Imagine what you might feel if one of your children came to you and said “mommy Tommy’s on the floor purple.”

That is exactly what happened to Alex Allred, a mother of 3 kids with asthma, an environmental activist and writer. Like yesterday, she remembers one of her daughters coming into a room where she was working and giving her that scary message.

Allred then scooped up her youngest child up and began a mad rush to the emergency room.

On the way to the ED with her son experiencing signs of a severe asthma attack, he asked her between breaths “Mommy can a little boy die of this?”

As her heart sank, Allred told me she then shifted into pure survival mode. To this day, she has never been so abrupt with her son. While she knew the answer to be yes, she immediately and forcefully told her son NO, he was being silly, and that he was going to be o.k.

She remembers how serious her son’s condition was as ED personnel emergently shifted their focus from someone with large wound recently suffered in a car accident to care for her son.

While her two oldest children are now older and managing asthma on their own and her son is an adolescent, she recounted this story whenever her children were going to be in the care of or under the supervision of another adult.

While she struggled, like many parents, with letting her kids go to activities outside of her supervision, and she worried about what might happen at a sports practice or other activity, she found that sharing this story very quickly got parents, teachers, and coaches on the same page as her.

Do you think you could use a story like this?

If you have your own story email me what you talk to parents, teachers, and coaches to make sure they get on the same page as you.

More Tips To Help Manage Asthma When You Are Not Around

  • Open a dialogue. Asthma can make some children and adolescents feel awkward and different from their peers. The following questions can help you monitor asthma, open a conversation with your child, and provide actionable areas to address to improve your child’s asthma care:
    • What is the hardest part about having asthma at XXX (church, school, sports team etc.)
    • How can we make your asthma easier to treat or deal with at XXX (church, school, sports team etc.)
  • Color code asthma inhalers. Color coding your child’s inhalers will not only make it easier for your child to remember which inhaler to use, but also for adults that are not as familiar with asthma as you. I recommend red for rescue inhalers like albuterol and purple for prevention inhalers like Advair and Symbicort.
  • Make prevention a habit. There are a number of steps you can take to prevent worsening of asthma or an asthma attack. Monitoring air quality and avoiding days where you are likely to experience a trigger can help your asthma control tremendously. Likewise, rewards can help your child develop specific behaviors you are trying to encourage. One downside, however, is that behaviors often tend to diminish was the rewards stop.
  • Keep appointments for asthma followup. Asthma is a chronic, complicated disease and your control may wax and wane depending on a whole host of issues. Regular check-ups with your asthma doctor that include monitoring of your asthma action plan are very important. Additionally, routine assessment of inhaler technique, med use, knowledge of asthma as well as adjustment of asthma medications are essential to asthma control.

What Is Your Biggest Asthma Problem?

We want to help you get control of your asthma. I want to hear about your biggest asthma problem so that we can try to help you develop a solution or better understand how to help.
 You are probably not the only one with the problem. Take a few minutes describing your problem so we can develop a solution together.



  1. Interview with Alex Allred. March 2015.
  2. Pearce L. KNOW HOW: Asthma Inhalers. Nursing Times 2000; 96:14.

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