Pedipress - Asthma research and resources for children, teens, adults, parents, healthcare professionals, and the elderly Cough, wheeze, sucking in the chest skin (retractions), and breathing faster are the major common signs of an asthma attack in children. Health professionals, librarians, and teachers - helpful educational materials
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Organizing Asthma Care

There have been many improvements in the diagnosis, treatment and education of patients with asthma in the past twenty years.

  • They were summarized in NHLBI Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma in 1991 and updated in 1997, 2002 and 2007.
  • Many physicians accept and follow the Guidelines with respect to diagnosis and treatment.
  • However, few practices provide their patients advice and instructions in a consistent fashion.
  • As a result, parents hear different explanations and receive contradictory instructions from their doctors and nurses.
  • They may even hear six professionals each refer to albuterol by a different name.


  • By necessity, most asthma education is unscheduled and takes place in one to five minute bites.
  • For this reason, every professional who comes into contact with parents and patients should have the knowledge to answer basic asthma questions and the skill to instruct patients in the use of devices, diaries and asthma action plans.

A practice must work as an integrated system to attain maximum efficiency and effectiveness. All staff must agree on the essentials of asthma treatment and education. If they don’t, they will waste their time and that of their patients explaining why their approach differs from that of others. Consider trying some of the following:

  • Vocabulary. All staff should use the same words when you talk to patients.
  • Use of a single term will speed teaching and learning.
  • Written materials. When choosing a booklet, diary or action plan, pick one that matches your words and the other material that you use. This will simplify teaching and learning and enable parents to continue their learning at home.
  • Equipment. Use as few types as possible. This will make teaching and troubleshooting easier.
  • Medicines. Limit your choices to the essentials. This will streamline instruction and reduce errors by staff and patients.
  • Education. Start with basic information and then build on it.
  • Educate at every patient contact.
  • Encourage patients to learn by reading and by analyzing their diaries at home.

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