[Quiz] Is your child’s asthma well controlled?
Are you sure your child’s asthma is well controlled?
How can you tell if your child’s asthma is controlled?
In a prior article, I described how to check if your asthma is controlled, including a quiz to an asthma control test. This was a great article (said as I pat myself on the back) but was really targeted to adults as well as children age 12. So what about younger children?
This post is part of our series where we, together, prepare for winter and improve our/our family’s cold-weather health. And for our younger kids, ensuring their asthma is optimized BEFORE winter hits is probably the single best way to keep them healthy and keep them out of the doctor’s office or ER this winter.
This post is dedicated to finding out whether or not your child’s asthma is well controlled by following the pediatric asthma guidelines. But if you wanted to get an answer right now, I’ve created this childhood asthma control test for you to take:
This childhood asthma control test is taken straight from the pediatric asthma guidelines and the scientifically reviewed asthma control test from asthma.com.
Why younger children have a greater asthma risk?
Because kids are germ factories. As I wrote in a prior article, colds/flus are the biggest trigger for well controlled asthma to flare into an asthma attack. And everyone reading this knows how often kids get sick. So your asthmatic child is at risk for viral-induced asthma attacks!
But this is almost a given.
What is not often recognized is all the other asthma risks of a younger child:
- They play outside on cooler days, which might lead to cold-induced asthma
- They might not remember to (or easily be able to) get their medication from school nurse
- They often “tolerate” subtle asthma symptoms and may not tell adults so that they can continue to play with their friends, play outside, go to school, etc.
- Symptoms of uncontrolled asthma (such as cough) are often attributed to colds/flus
- Younger children are often not experienced enough to know the earlier, subtle changes in their asthma that would show they need to adjust their medications
- Finally, children have a larger reserve than adults so they can often “push through” earlier sickness or asthma symptoms and only feel symptoms once it’s too late
For all these reasons, it is important that we create a plan to keep your child’s asthma under control and within the pediatric asthma guidelines!
Review of the symptoms of uncontrolled asthma
I’ve discussed the symptoms of asthma in the past so I wanted to give you a quick review of some of both standard and unique ways a child may show their asthma is uncontrolled:
Usual Warning Signs and Symptoms of Uncontrolled Asthma
- Shortness of breath at rest or with minimal exertion
- Difficulty breathing or painful/troubled breathing
- Chest tightness or chest pains
- Coughing (usually worse at night)
- Nighttime awakening due to breathing difficulty
Unique Childhood Warning Signs and Symptoms of Uncontrolled Asthma
- Nighttime awakening (in general) – your son/daughter may not know why they wake up at night so keep a high suspicion for nighttime awakenings
- Decreased ability to play or to “keep up” with friends – your child might not recognize why they can’t keep up… they just can’t
- Prolonged coughing after exposure to cold air / exercise
- Or prolonged coughing in general — remember, cough-variant asthma is the second most common cause of coughing!
- Increased visits to school nurse – always consider asthma if your son/daughter’s school nurse visits increase
- Increase fatigue, tiredness or lethargy – this is not specific for asthma and maybe your child is just more tired. But keep asthma on the suspicious list.
Summary: If you have a child with asthma, keep asthma control at the front of your mind at all times.
If you are unsure whether asthma is an issue or not, then the next step is easy and I discuss it below!
How to tell if your son or daughter’s asthma is uncontrolled?
Asthma control is very important and very well established in the pediatric asthma guidelines. Based on these guidelines, there are two quick ways to check if your child’s asthma is under control:
Baylor Rule of 2’s
These questions are not as good as the pediatric asthma control test, but they are able to give you a quick snapshot on your child’s asthma control.
Your child’s asthma might be uncontrolled if:
- If your child needs rescue inhaler more than 2 times per week (not counting before exercise)
- If your child wakes up at night more than 2 times per month (with asthma symptoms or coughing)
- If your child needs more than 2 rescue inhaler canisters a year
If ANY ONE of these is true, then your son or daughter’s asthma might not be well controlled. If you answer yes to one or more, I’d recommend taking the childhood asthma control test below and also calling your provider to see about adjusting asthma medication.
Childhood Asthma Control Test
Perhaps the best way to see if your child’s asthma is controlled and following the pediatric asthma guidelines is by taking the childhood asthma control test. This test is so good, reproducible and validated that I ask it of all my patients on every visit and track it just like it were blood pressure, heart rate or any other vital sign.
The childhood asthma control test is divided into two parts:
- Part one includes 4 questions that the child answers
- Part two includes 3 questions that the parent answers
If you want to take this test the easy way, I have included a link to a quiz where, together, we can go through the test and give you a proper score:
Or, if you would rather, I have scanned in the questions below and you can go through them on your own.
Childhood Asthma Control Test
Part 1: Have your child complete these questions
Please complete these questions yourself
How to interpret the childhood asthma control test
Add the total score of all questions of the quiz.
- If the score is 20 or more, then it would suggest that your child’s asthma is well controlled per the pediatric asthma guidelines.
- If the score is 19 or less, then according to the pediatric asthma guidelines your child’s asthma MIGHT NOT be controlled.
I would recommend that you make an appointment with your provider as soon as you can if your son or daughter got a score of 19 or less on the childhood asthma control test (the faster they get better, then lower their risk for the rest of an asthma attack).
If your child has asthma that might not be well controlled, your next step is to make an appointment with your provider to discuss adjustments to asthma medications (again, a childhood asthma control test score of 19 or less, per the pediatric asthma guidelines, that your child’s asthma might NOT be not well controlled).
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As always, if you have any questions about your child’s asthma care, please ask me and I will be happy to help.