Asthma and children

Asthma in infants and young children: Infants and young children may lack the coordination needed to press down on the inhaler while breathing in. A spacer (aerochamber) with a facemask (a device that attaches to the inhaler) can help an infant or young child get more medication into their lungs. Even with spacers and facemasks, children under 5 years of age often don't get as much medication into their lungs as adults. To compensate, your child may be given higher doses.

Asthma in school-aged children: Find out if the school has any rules about carrying medications (since many children with asthma need to carry reliever medication with them). Before your child goes to school for the first time, be sure they and their teacher know how to use their reliever medication. Using a spacer (a device that attaches to the inhaler) can help your child get more medication into their lungs. Try to schedule doses of regularly used controller medications so they can be given at home.

Asthma and exercise (exercise-induced asthma)

People with exercise-induced asthma experience asthma symptoms during and after exercise. Using a fast-acting inhaled bronchodilator 5 to 15 minutes before exercise can help prevent asthma symptoms.

Asthma and pregnancy

If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, speak to your doctor about your asthma treatments. Overall, the risks of uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy are greater than the risks of asthma medications used in pregnancy. It's important to understand what your medication is for and how to use it.

Asthma and seniors

Asthma is not just a young person's disease – it is quite common in seniors, too. Seniors with asthma have a higher risk of hospitalization and death due to asthma. Asthma can also be more difficult to diagnose in seniors, who often have other conditions that cause similar symptoms, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart failure. Seniors may be unaware of their asthma because they may think their symptoms are simply due to age. As well, the symptoms of asthma may be different in seniors. For some, their only symptom of asthma is a night-time cough.

There are also special considerations for asthma treatment in seniors, as they may have trouble remembering their asthma medications or using inhalers.

For seniors with asthma, it's important to ask your doctor for a treatment plan that fits with your other medical conditions, to have your pharmacist teach you how to use your inhalers, and to ask your pharmacist about ways to remember your asthma medications.

Asthma and surgery

People with asthma have a higher risk of certain complications with surgery, such as asthma flare-ups during and after surgery, a collapsed lung, pneumonia, or sudden narrowing of the airways due to placement of a breathing tube. Complications are more likely to happen with surgery to the chest and upper abdomen, and with surgery that uses general anesthesia (being completely "put under").

If you are scheduled for surgery, make sure your asthma is well controlled before the surgery. You should also have a checkup with your doctor about a week before the surgery to look at your risk of complications and to make sure your asthma is under control. Some people with asthma may need to take inhaled bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroids, or steroids by mouth before the surgery to manage their asthma and reduce the risk of complications.