Asthma FAQ

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about asthma:

What is asthma?

Asthma is a condition that affects the airway in the lungs. You cannot catch asthma from someone, but it can run in families.
Your child may go for a very long time without showing signs of asthma or needing any medicine for asthma. This does not mean he/ she has grown out of it, so you should always have a plan for what you will do if his/her symptoms return.

Why asthma causes problems?

People with asthma have lungs that are very sensitive, which means their lungs overreact to triggers. With asthma, your child’s airways become smaller, inflamed, swollen, and make extra mucus. These changes make it hard for air to flow in and your child’s lungs.

How do we breathe?

When we breathe, air goes down the windpipe (trachea) into 2 large air tubes (bronchi), then into smaller tubes (bronchioles), then to tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs.

What causes an asthma flare?

Things that cause asthma flare-ups are called triggers. These differ from child to child. What affects one child may not affect another. It is important to know what your child’s triggers are and how to limit/prevent exposure to these triggers.

What are some examples of asthma triggers?

  • Playing and Exercise –
  • Allergies
    • Dust mites
    • Furry pets
    • Molds
    • Tree pollen
    • Grass, weeds
    • Certain foods
  • Germs –
  • Tobacco smoke, vaping/e-cigarettes
  • Air pollution
  • Automobile exhaust
  • Changes in outdoor temperature/humidity
  • Colds and Flu
  • Crying or Laughing
  • Some medications
  • Odors, including cleaning supplies, paints, perfumes, candles/air fresheners

What are some warning signs to look out for?

  • Wheezing
  • Tight feeling in chest
  • Breathing in a different way
  • Cough
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Stomachache
  • Change in mood
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Itchy throat
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Ear pain
  • Bluish fingernails or lips

What can I do to help prevent asthma flares?

  • Take medicines in the Green Zone of your child’s Asthma Action Plan.
  • Do not smoke/vape or let anyone else smoke/vape around your child.
  • If your child has allergies, it may help to use air-conditioning in your car and at home to help filter the air. Keep windows closed to keep pollens out of your home. Change air filters often.
  • Do not use strong smelling cleaners, room sprays, perfume or candles.
  • Keep pets out of your child’s bedroom. Wash your pets every week.
  • Wash your child’s bedding in hot water once a week.
  • Vacuum carpeting once a week.
  • Use an air cleaning device with a HEPA filter in his/her bedroom.
  • Stay away from mold that may be in wet leaves, damp basements, bathrooms.
  • Do not use a humidifier in your home.
  • Watch out for pollen in your area and try to stay indoors during high pollen times which are before 10am.
  • Try to stay away from very cold or very hot, humid air.
  • Follow up with your child’s doctor for regular asthma checks.
  • Vaccines: Flu shots help keep your child from getting sick.
  • Talk to your doctor or nurse to see if your child should get a flu shot each year.

UNC Children’s Asthma Education Video Series

The following videos were originally posted on UNC Children’s Asthma Education page, another excellent source for current, reliable information pertaining to asthma

Chapter 1: What Is Asthma?

Chapter 2: Asthma Triggers

Chapter 3: Asthma Medications

Chapter 4: Using a Spacer with a Mask

Chapter 5: Using a Spacer with a Mouthpiece

Chapter 6: Using Your Asthma Action Plan

Chapter 7: Living with Asthma