How to manage your child’s asthma and allergies with a simple and effective asthma tracking system. Use it on your normal calendar. Practical advise for practical moms!
One of the most important things a parent can do for their child after being diagnosed with asthma, allergies, or any chronic illness, is to implement an asthma tracking system. Through careful asthma tracking, you will be able to discover trends in your child that may lead you to undiscovered allergies, better choices for medications, and even instances where the weather can affect your child’s health! By using a daily asthma tracking system, you will be organized and on top of your child’s symptoms.
Over the years of managing my daughter Laura’s health (she is the main creator of this website!), I developed my own weekly and monthly asthma tracking systems. The three most important things to making this easier were a calendar, a simple spiral notebook, and a well-stocked medicine basket.
I’m old school in that I liked pen and paper to keep track of her health, but you may love your phone for taking notes! Apps can be just as effective for managing health and it really is a personal preference. Let’s go into how I previously used each of these tools for managing my daughter’s health.
Using a Calendar for an Asthma Tracking System
Our lives did not revolve around Laura’s asthma and allergies, as we tried to keep some sense of normalcy for the family. To keep track of her schedule, a large flat lay calendar worked well for our family’s time management. Between school functions, after school activities, weekly allergy injections and doctor appointments, (not to mention the events our other kids participated in) our weeks were busy.
Using a calendar helped me keep track of what our days were like, where we had to be, and eventually, I began to track Laura’s mood and reactions. The calendar was a written record so I did not have to rely on my memory! By using it with the notebook (See more in a bit) I was able to discover trends in Laura’s health over the years.
I used colored markers to differentiate the various activities that were happening in my family, for example: Red for doctor appointments, yellow for allergy injection days, blue for school events, green for after school activities, and purple for family gatherings. Let your child pick the colors and have some fun with stickers to brighten up the pages. Young Laura loved the job of putting stickers on her favorite events! Teaching your children time management early on instills responsibility and cooperation for everyone in the family.
And don’t throw your calendars away! For years we had struggled understanding why there were times when Laura became very ill and by looking back on the months and years of asthma tracking that we were able to determine, in one example, that she had huge spikes in asthma attacks due to the flowering ragweed at the end of summers. It was not the dog after all! By using my asthma tracking system we were able to realize trends in Laura’s health, plus the family was happy because we could keep the dog.
Use the calendar format that works best for you. Like I said, I’m old school and like pen and paper to this day. You might find that an app or two works best for you and your family.
The point is to stay organized and have a record of what goes on, on any given day.
Also, I can’t tell you how many times doctor offices would try and push appointment times on me! And I would stand there, not knowing what my schedule was as my calendar was at home. I learned that telling the office you will call back later to make that next appointment after you check your calendar back at home saved me lots of headaches. Sometimes in our rush to leave we forget that while it may be convenient for the doctor, that time isn’t convenient for you!
How to Use a Notebook in an Asthma Tracking System
The spiral notebook is the place where I tracked everything related to Laura’s asthma and allergies. It was here that I tracked her peak flow numbers, mood, physical symptoms, medicines, food we ate, and even the weather! When I first started to track Laura’s symptoms, I used a half page to write everything down. When Laura was ill, I ended up using a full page. Stickers appeared on the pages here as well!
I kept track of peak flow meter readings twice a day, and sometimes more if Laura was sick.
Her doctor determined the breathing range of good, not so good and yikes! Denoted as green, yellow and red zones, this was a vital clue to how Laura’s lungs were functioning. This in turn helped me to decide what medications were used next.
Other things that I would keep track of on a daily basis were oral or inhaled steroids, a MDI or rescue inhaler, Benadryl, or anything else she needed. This information was important for the doctor to use if any adjustments were needed to her medication. Writing everything down allowed me to worry less.
Another important thing I would keep track of in Laura’s asthma tracking system, were the physical and emotional symptoms observed on a day. Things you can note in your note book are:
- Physical Symptoms
- chest tightness, coughing, stomach aches, fever, rashes or itchy skin, runny nose, puffy eyes, reddened ears or cheeks, or a rash around the mouth
- Emotional Symptoms
- Angry, cranky, tired, moody, hyperactive, screaming, crying, temper tantrums, talking back, lack of focus, anxiety and panic attacks
- Places your child went to that day
- School, parks, family or friend’s house, restaurants, zoo, movie theater, etc.
- Change in temperature or barometric pressures
This is where I learned to become a detective for my child’s health. No one knows your child better than you. Take good notes.
Lastly, I was that parent who walked into the doctor’s office armed with accurate information and important questions about Laura’s health! Thanks to the detailed notes I kept using the asthma tracking system I outlined here, I knew what her trends were and what questions I wanted to ask. Most doctors don’t mind the questions and notes, although I have been to a few who groaned and rolled their eyes. Don’t be dismayed. Keep going! You have a right to the most up to date medical information. And there are other doctors out there. Find one you can work with and easily talk too. I know that you are involved and serious about the health and wellbeing of your child!
The Well Stocked Medicine Basket
If your child is older, the MDI inhaler is probably in their pocket! Choose a plastic or wooden basket, or even a plastic type drawer, to store everything. Find a size to work for all of your child’s needs. I kept mine on the kitchen counter and out of reach of Laura’s younger sister – put it inside a cabinet if you need too! Be aware and safe. It included:
- the Peak Flow Meter
- last month’s MDI with a few puffs left
- long acting steroid (oral tablets or inhaler)
- decongestant (oral tablets or nasal sprays)
- saline nasal sprays
- Benadryl (oral tablets and cream, no house should be without this)
- medicine for fevers or headaches (please remember that asthmatics can’t use acetaminophen or aspirin)
- liquid or tablets for stomach issues (again check the ingredients for anything that your child can’t take)
- something else for skin rashes (hydro-cortisone cream or calamine lotion)
- first aid cream
- kid bandages (with cute designs)
- a list of doctor’s names and phones, nearby hospitals, urgent care centers and pharmacies
- phone numbers of anyone else whom you should call in an emergency (Grandparents)
Having things prepared and in one place can be of value in an emergency. Don’t rely on memory. I once in a crisis forgot my husband’s phone number! Something I dialed every day. This was back in the days when we didn’t have cell phones with the numbers stored inside, but still! Keep it written down because you never know. Not to mention, having the numbers written out is helpful for Grandparents, Aunts, or the sitter to assist in any situation. It brings peace of mind.
As always, gather together what you need to assure the safety and well-being of your child. And when in doubt, check with your doctor.
One More Thought
I always carried a travel bag of extra medical supplies for Laura when on the road. I used a small diaper bag to hold a second peak flow meter, seconds of the above medicines, wet wipes, a safe snack and a book or two when we were going to our activities or the trip to the Grandparents. It was useful, easy and ready to go every day. Today there are many more choices of bag designs other than an old diaper bag! But it worked.