Asthma and Teens | American Lung Association

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Asthma and Teens

Your Child's Asthma: A Parent's Guide to Better Breathing

This step-by-step guide will help you learn about asthma and what to do when your child is experiencing symptoms.

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The rebelliousness and need for independence that comes with adolescence can be especially difficult for teens with asthma and their families. Children who have been responsibly managing their asthma for years may start to have more problems with symptoms. This could be caused by hormonal changes, or by attitude and behavioral changes.

Here are a few things that might be causing problems for your teen:

  • Needing to be "normal": Teens are super sensitive about things they think makes them different from their friends. They may feel "uncool" taking medicine. They may be nervous about having an asthma episode in public. Or they may be encountering asthma triggers at a friend's house that they are uncomfortable dealing with. You may be able to help by encouraging your teen to talk about these feelings. Keep the lines of communication open between you, the doctor and your teen.
  • Smoking: Smoking and secondhand smoke can cause sudden and severe asthma flare-ups. If your child starts to smoke, or is spending time with smokers, they are going to have a lot of trouble keeping their asthma under control. The American Lung Association Not On Tobacco program can help 14- to 19-year-old smokers end their nicotine addictions. Teen smokers also can get free telephone counseling through the Lung Helpline.
  • Playing sports: Like everyone who has asthma, teens should be able to live healthy, active lives, including playing sports if they choose. Check in with the pediatrician to make sure your child's Asthma Action Plan is up to date, and make sure the coach knows your child has asthma and has a copy of the plan.

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