Overcoming obstacles in following an asthma plan

Asthma is a long-lasting (chronic) disease that may last throughout your life—you must treat it long-term. But following a management plan can be difficult over a long period of time.

Following are some reasons you may not follow your management plan, as well as possible solutions.

Asthma management plan problems
Reasons you might not follow plan Possible solutions

You may not fully understand the seriousness of asthma. Some adults who have mild symptoms may not feel that treatment is necessary.

  • Learn all you can about asthma. Even if you have no symptoms, asthma can hurt your lungs, possibly leading to worse symptoms later in life.
  • Understand the benefits of treating asthma and the risks of not treating asthma.

It may be difficult to visit or communicate with a health professional or pharmacist. This could be because of distance and a lack of transportation, cultural or language barriers, a lack of trust, or miscommunication. All of this can lead to little guidance about what to do.

  • Work with others to ensure that you have transportation to your health professional and pharmacy.
  • Work with your health professional to develop personal goals and expectations for your treatment.
  • If you do not understand something, ask about it.
  • If you do not feel comfortable with your health professional, consider looking for a new one.
  • If language is a problem, have a friend help you or get in touch with a social organization.

Often it is difficult for a child to follow the management plan because the child must rely on the help of family members and other people.

Asthma management plan problems for children
Reasons children may not follow plan Possible solutions

In single-parent families, a parent may not always be available to help the child remember to take medication. It also may mean that a child has sole responsibility for treatment.

  • Talk to friends, neighbors, and school administrators about your child's asthma and what they can do to help.
  • Help your child understand what he or she can do for the condition.

The child may have many caregivers, making it difficult for the child to be on a regular schedule.

  • Print a calendar with the child's schedule and who is responsible on each day, and see that all caregivers have a schedule.
  • Be proactive about calling other caregivers to be sure everyone understands what has to be done.
  • Teach your child to be proactive in working with caregivers and understanding what he or she has to do for the condition.

A shortage of school health professionals may make it hard to help the child remember to take medication or to take it correctly.

  • Contact the school principal, other administrators, teachers, counselors, and coaches. Make sure they all understand that your child has asthma and how important it is that he or she takes the medication.
  • If possible, find one person in the school who will see that your child takes his or her medication.
  • Talk to your child's friends to see if they can help remind your child to take the medication.

Oral corticosteroid syrup (such as methylprednisolone) has a bitter taste, and some young children will vomit or refuse their medication.

  • Work with your health professional. There may be other brands or other medications your child can take.

Children or teens may be embarrassed about having to take asthma medication. They may feel different than their friends and peers.

  • Help your child remember that asthma is only one part of life.
  • If possible, allow your child to meet with your health professional alone. This will encourage your child to become involved in his or her own care.
  • Work out a daily management plan that allows your child to continue daily activities, especially sports. Exercise is important for maintaining strong lungs and overall health.
  • Encourage your child to meet others who have asthma so they can support each other.

Last Updated: April 21, 2009

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